Moffat County volleyball squeezes in Homecoming game with West Grand

Andy Bockelman
For the Craig Press
Cayden King of Moffat County High School volleyball takes a swing during a Homecoming week match against West Grand.
Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press

In an already tumultuous week, Moffat County High School volleyball players only had so much time to get on the court, but even if it flew by, they were glad to get the competition.

MCHS volleyball took on the West Grand Mustangs of Kremmling Friday afternoon, with the Bulldogs pushing it to four sets against the 2A team.

Moffat County was originally supposed to play during a weekend tournament hosted by West Grand, but a COVID precaution had them staying home.

The team was also intended to play a Homecoming week match against 3A Western Slope League opponent Rifle on Thursday, though a scheduling conflict postponed that as well.

However, MCHS administrators were able to bring West Grand to Craig for action just before the Bulldog football game Friday night, immediately after the downtown Homecoming parade.

A mix of C-Team and junior varsity players were able to go 3-1 against the Mustang JV — winning 25-16 before three straight defeats — leading to the varsity round.

At 5-1 heading into the game, West Grand had a reputation, but the Bulldogs surprised them all the more in the opener. After trailing for most of the set, a fierce comeback commenced at game point as a successful kill pounded to the floor by senior Abbe Adams tied the tally at 24. Senior Olivia Profumo stayed steady at the service line to keep the momentum, but it was junior Makaela Simpson who had the final hit of the set to claim the 26-24 win.

“It felt pretty good. We get into slumps, then get out of it and back into it sometimes,” Simpson said. “I think we were pretty prepared, we were just happy to get a Homecoming game. They were good competition.”

The jubilation at the first set won on the home floor so far this season changed by the second set as Mustang claimed one run of points after another. Between timeouts, MCHS went from trailing by a manageable margin of 14-7 to 22-9. Apart from a faulty West Grand serve to get the Dogs into double digits, the Mustangs quickly finished it up at 25-10.

By the third set, both teams had a sense of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and West Grand showed they had no fear at the net, some of which were clearly painful being on the receiving end of Bulldog hitters.

“They followed where our spots were that and figured out how to block where we were,” Simpson said.

Simpson said she preferred to be right up front and didn’t envy back row players Diana Arellano and Reese Weber, both of whom were getting targeted by the Mustangs with a lot of receptions.

“I’m more comfortable in the front row. I don’t get frustrated as much as I do in the back. Diana was getting hammered at the whole game,” Simpson said.

The 25-17 loss in the third set led to a 25-11 fourth as MoCo girls struggled to respond to a West Grand offense working just right.

“They worked hard. They had a lot of adjustments, but they did a great job,” said MCHS assistant coach Misty Jones.

MCHS wasn’t hurting for big attacks, with 23 total kills in the match — Adams hitting six and Taytum Smercina and Profumo each with four.

However, two blocks made up the defensive statistics, and the Bulldogs racked up 13 service errors compared to four aces.

“We beat ourselves. They’re a good team, but they get into their own heads so much,” Jones said.

MCHS moves to 2-3 overall and will next play on the road Wednesday against Soroco before hosting league foes Delta and Cedaredge Sept. 17 and 18.

Though the game with West Grand came about quickly, Simpson said she and her teammates were pleased to be able to get a game in for Homecoming amid other activities.

“It’s been super hectic, but it’s been super fun,” she said.

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