Moffat County volleyball rebounds from close Rifle loss to defeat Roaring Fork
For the Craig Press
The Moffat County High School student section may have brought out the cleaning supplies a little soon Saturday, but Bulldog volleyball’s weekend win was no less noteworthy.
MCHS took a 3-1 victory against the Roaring Fork Rams in a decisive turnaround from a defeat earlier in the week.
The Bulldogs visited Rifle Thursday to continue league play, coming agonizingly close in each set against the Bears but ultimately falling in three straight: two rounds of 25-22 and a 26-24 finale.
With multiple near-comebacks, MCHS girls maintained good numbers with 22 total kills — seven by senior Abbe Adams and five by junior Cayden King — and 14 total kills, five each by Adams and King.
However, three aces were meager compared to nine service errors.
“We definitely had to play catch-up and couldn’t get there,” said head coach Becca Sage. “We’re going to work on keeping the ball in the court and not trying to slam it so much. We just need to make small corrections, and I think we’ll be OK.”
Back at home Saturday, MoCo players were more on point against a less competitive team. Heading into the game, Roaring Fork’s record was 1-12, one of those losses being against the Dogs at early September’s Soroco tournament.
Still, the Rams had a 4-0 start to the match in Craig. The Bulldogs answered back quickly, and upon a tie, Adams kicked into high gear with a run that would make an enviable poker hand: four aces.
“I finally got comfortable with it and started picking on some players on the other side,” Adams said.
Roaring Fork kept evening up the score late in the first set, with both sides struggling with service, but junior Lizzy LeWarne smashed the ball to floor to win it 25-23.
Long rallies marked a narrow second round, but as MCHS girls got their rhythm going, senior setter Jacie Evenson put the ball in position perfectly for Adams to get a final kill and make it 25-20.
Clad in neon and carrying bundles of plastic forks — get it? — the MCHS student section took it upon themselves to raid the cleaning supplies and break out a bundle of brooms and mops in anticipation of a 3-0 sweep, which would be the first this season for the Dogs outside of tourney play.
However, the Rams had different plans, keeping it neck and neck throughout the third set. Many frantic saves by the Bulldogs kept the game going at a fast pace. Tied up at 25, Roaring Fork found the necessary holes in the MoCo gameplay that let them press ahead to a 27-25 win.
“We played really well offensively, but we need to work on our defense a little more,” Evenson said.
The fourth set began much like the first, as Bulldogs committed several side outs to give the Rams a 5-0 advantage, leading to a timeout.
Afterward, MCHS girls shook up their strategy, with shots at the net shifting from powerful spikes to sneaky short tips, much to Sage’s delight.
“They definitely did a good job playing smart instead of hard,” she said.
It remained a tight game, but as the Bulldogs mixed it up between true kills and soft shots, they were able to stay in front on the scoreboard.
Evenson said that whenever she stepped up to the service line, she was also keeping a light touch.
“That’s what we need to focus on is just over the net and in the court. I try to keep it short to change it up on the other side,” she said.
Evenson had the honor of the final point of the night, delicately pushing it over the net to win 25-23.
In Saturday stats, MCHS had a staggering 35 kills; 10 by Adams, five by King and Olivia Profumo, four for LeWarne and Makaela Simpson, three by Evenson, and two apiece for Taytum Smercina and Alexis Jones.
Out of 17 aces, Adams had seven, Diana Arellano three, Smercina two, and one apiece for LeWarne, Profumo, Evenson, and Reese Weber.
Evenson recorded 26 successful assists against Roaring Fork compared to the 16 she put up in Rifle.
“We’re a really good comeback team, but we didn’t quite get there that night,” Evenson said of the Thursday game.
Blocking stayed consistent between the two games, with Adams shutting down seven of the Rams’ hits, with Evenson, Jones and King also contributing to the dozen total blocks Saturday.
Though she would have preferred the sweep, Adams was fine with winning in four.
“I was so glad we finally pulled together and got it done. A win’s a win,” she said.
Sage added that the motivation to come out strong on the weekend was greater thanks to the loss in Rifle.
“They were both pretty equal, but since we lost on Thursday, we really wanted to come away with a win in this one,” she said.
At 4-6 overall and 2-2 in 3A Western Slope League play, MCHS plays on the road again Tuesday versus non-league opponent Plateau Valley before returning to home court for an Oct. 2 match with Grand Valley, which will also serve as the volleyball program’s Pink Game.
Going forward, players are aware of where they can improve to turn a narrow loss to a more dominant win, particularly at the service line.
However, it remains a mental game, and athletes hope that bigger crowds will play into their effort.
“We just need a little bit more positivity and energy and then we can do anything,” Adams said.
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