Moffat County volleyball vying for victory |

Moffat County volleyball vying for victory

Senior players provide guidance during season of transition

Moffat County High School's Jaidyn Steele (5) winds up for the spike during a junior varsity volleyball game. Many younger players are acclimating to higher levels of play this season.
Andy Bockelman

It’s a young team, but with some solid senior leadership, the Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School volleyball team looks to set up a program that will keep getting stronger. volleyball team looks to set up a program that will keep getting stronger.

Moffat County High School volleyball team looks to set up a program that will keep getting stronger.

Lady Bulldog volleyball has come out swinging with a mixture of seasoned varsity players, eager beginners and everyone in between taking to the court in a year that’s full of changes.

Erin Knez took over as head coach this year, following two seasons under Starla Jensen’s leadership, and with a variety of skill levels making up the roster, the big question has been finding the right space for everyone.

In 2015, MCHS volleyball could fill its side of the net with upperclassmen, six on hand, but this year, there are only two seniors: Mattie Jo Duzik and Emma Samuelson.

“That is the biggest blessing I have this year, those two are both very skilled, very natural, good leaders,” Knez said. “When the girls start struggling, they might be frustrated, but you’re not going to see it, and they’re going to pick each other up out there.”

Duzik was an All-Conference First Team selection the past two years and is more than ready to step up to the task of being a general on the floor.

“After playing varsity since my sophomore year, it’s my job now, and I want to help these girls adjust from the JV level to the varsity level,” she said. “It’s completely different, it’s a higher pace, we have different moves, we are better in reacting, and I think it’s my job to help keep the team together and have a good attitude and work hard. Learning how to scratch is a big thing.”

Bailey Lawton is an MCHS sophomore who primarily played JV last year, but she’ll see varsity minutes almost exclusively as the team’s designated setter, working in tandem with Duzik a great deal.

“We’ve been working on our ones, a really short, quick set, where she comes right over the top of me, I’m excited to try that,” she said, adding that trust is key. “There’s a lot of pressure as a setter to get it to your hitters since they’re the ones who do most of your work, but I’ve got pretty relationships with them, so we’re never really worried about it.”

Lawton said she expects a lot of competition among 3A Western Slope teams, particularly Grand Valley.

“They didn’t really lose anyone, and they’ve still got strong hitters, so they’ll be tough,” she said. “It’s kind of a rebuilding year for us, but I think we’ll get stronger as a team as we go.”

Knez said getting in the right state of mind will determine what kind of season it will be.

“My big focus this year is mental toughness, that will be one of our biggest strides,” she said.

Promoting aggression throughout the schedule will also be a component.

“At home games, this crowd will see attacks like never before,” Knez said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

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