Moffat County volleyball starts new season

Moffat County junior Ruby Short looks to hit the ball over the Lake County block. Lake County won the game 3-0 on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Moffat County High School.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

With one away game and one home event in the books, the Moffat County volleyball players have a sense of their strengths and weakness and are ready to keep going forward.

MCHS faced off Saturday on the road against their regional rivals the Steamboat Springs Sailors, followed by Moffat County’s home opener on Tuesday against the Lake County Panthers.

Though the Lady Bulldogs were swept in both games, the matches were a refresher for the returning varsity players and a crash course for others.

With last season’s 11-11 record the best the program has seen in more than a decade, losing several powerhouse players to graduation means rebuilding the roster, which features seven seniors.

Some were varsity regulars last year, some are new to that level, and a lot of adjustments have been part of practices.

“Everybody’s playing a new position, so it’ll be a little new to everyone at first,” said head coach Becca Sage.

Things could have gone smoother in Steamboat after senior Alexis Jones caught the Sailors off-guard with an ace for the first point of the season, but a seven-point run by Steamboat set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

The Sailors won the opening set 25-15, and it was much of the same with a 25-14 Steamboat win in the second. Sage cycled in more of the Bulldogs bench in the third and Moffat got within one at 17-16, but MoCo struggled from there, as Steamboat cruised to a 25-17 finale.

Moffat County senior Alexis Jones bumps the ball to one of her teammates against Steamboat Springs in the Bulldogs’ season opener on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, in Steamboat.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

“In Steamboat, we just didn’t come ready to play like we should have, but when we get them at home, we should get a redemption,” Sage said, referring to a rematch Oct. 1.

MCHS athletes were ready to change up the energy against Lake County, which was fresh off four straight wins during a weekend tournament.

The Panthers started with shaky service, but minor mistakes compounded for Moffat until the first round finished 25-16 in favor of the visitors. The second set started roughly for Moffat County as Sage called a timeout with her team down 10-5, only to call another moments later as they trailed 15-5.

A kill by junior Ruby Short proved the turning point to stop Lake County’s streak, and a 13-5 MCHS run led them into a third timeout with the Bulldogs trailing 20-18.

“We wanted to showcase our teamwork, and the whole time we were keeping a positive attitude and keeping our spirits up,” Short said. “Our coverage was really great, and we kept up so well on defense.”

The lead changed again and again before coming to a tiebreaker scenario, which Lake County won 26-24.

“We definitely found our groove after a few points in that second set and kept that groove,” Sage said. “They just executed a little bit better than us tonight.”

Moffat County senior Lizzy LeWarne spikes the ball against Lake County on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, during a game in Craig.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

The final set saw the Dogs fight back from a 7-1 deficit with a Makaela Simpson kill tying the score at 17-all. Then Moffat County senior Lizzy LeWarne recorded a block to take the lead for the first time. Still, the Panthers rallied to take eight straight points for the 25-18 victory.

“We have to work on our out-of-system plays and setting up our hitters a little bit better so we can be more aggressive,” Sage said. “We should have a really good season, just need to keep working at it.”

The Bulldogs will be on their home floor twice more in the coming week, hosting Rangely on Tuesday, Sept. 6, and Caprock Academy on Thursday, Sept. 8. The following weekend will see them at a tournament hosted in Oak Creek, which Sage expects to be especially beneficial.

Short expects things will only get better as the team works to bounce back from the early losses.

“It’s nice to see how the team is going to progress and grow because we’re strong,” she said.

The Moffat County student section keeps up the energy for volleyball’s home opener versus Lake County on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

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