Moffat County volleyball sweeps Grand Valley in high-energy Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Game
For the Craig Press
When the members of Moffat County High School volleyball program can come away with wins at every level, that’s excellent. When they can do that in addition to supporting a far-reaching cause, all the better.
MCHS players earned their first non-tournament sweep of the season Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 win over the Grand Valley Cardinals, on a day that served as the team’s Pink Game as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Hot on the heels of 2-0 victories by both MCHS C-Team and JV, the varsity game kicked off with a different use of the court, as one member of the Lady Dogs was getting a haircut.
MoCo junior Lizzy LeWarne volunteered to snip her hair to provide for the charitable cause Children with Hair Loss.
The nonprofit organization based in Michigan provides hairpieces to young people who have lost hair, whether naturally or due to medical treatments.
“They give it to kids with cancer too, but if a kid has alopecia or something like that, they give them wigs,” LeWarne said. “I’ve done it before when I was a little younger.”
Donations can be between 8 and 12 inches, and donors must keep their hair well cared for in ponytails or braids to keep hairs in the same direction.
Leading up to the ceremony, LeWarne had multiple small braids, and her teammates and coaches each took a turn with the scissors.
“I was a little nervous about it, but they all figured it out. I liked being able to do that part of it,” she said.
She added that she had a personal reason for giving to CWHL.
“My grandpa died from cancer in 2015 and my grandma just beat breast cancer this year, so it’s affected me a lot,” LeWarne said.
After the temporary salon was packed up, MCHS girls got down to business with their latest 3A Western Slope League opponents, albeit in colors other than their usual blue and white.
The Pink Game festivities included pink t-shirts, socks and hair ribbons, as well as balloons and signs around the gym.
Also, players were able to distribute pink flowers to cancer survivors in the crowd or in memoriam of those who lost their battle with the disease.
Head coach Becca Sage noted the sizable turnout was encouraging.
“This is the most people we’ve had in the gym so far for a home game, so that really helped,” she said.
Grand Valley came out strong with a five-point run as Lady Dogs took a few minutes to get their heads in the game, but it took MoCo little time to catch up to them with back-to-back aces at the service line by senior Olivia Profumo.
After tying up at 6-all, senior Abbe Adams took over at the line as the Bulldogs compiled 12 uninterrupted points. Grand Valley responded as best they could, but a block by junior Cayden King got it to game point, and Profumo ended the set 25-13 with a final kill.
In the second round, the Cardinals again began on good footing, yet ties at 6-6 and 8-8 led to Bulldogs getting ahead and maintain at least a one-point margin for the rest of the set. Lengthy rallies continued to benefit MCHS girls, yet it was a decisive spike by senior Taytum Smercina that Grand Valley couldn’t return as it closed 25-17.
Grand Valley continued their trend of better beginning in the third, and were enjoying an 8-4 lead before Sage called a timeout. Exploiting the Cardinals’ struggles at the net, the Dogs were back in business as they got to double digits first and had a healthy advantage at 20-15 as the student section — also a sea of pink — were ready with the brooms for the impending sweep.
Perhaps they were a little overexcited, but MoCo girls had a little trouble closing out the game at match point as Cardinals suddenly had a four-point to get it to 24-23, leading to a timeout.
“I think they just got a little flustered,” Sage said of her athletes’ late dip.
A foul at the net called against the Cardinals gave the Lady Bulldogs their final point to win 25-23.
“We had a lot of positivity, and we were all really motivated to win for cancer awareness. We all had a person we wanted to win for, and so we pulled it out pretty easily,” LeWarne said.
The win over Grand Valley is third straight for MCHS volleyball, who followed their Sept. 25 3-1 victory over Roaring Fork with a triumph on the road Tuesday in Collbran against Plateau Valley.
The non-league game against the 2A Cowboys was a fun one, considering their hosts were 10-3 heading into the meeting, Sage said.
“They were a really good team. We lost the first set and then came back won the next three, which was awesome,” she said.
After a 25-18 loss in the opening set, the Bulldogs took over with increasingly dominant wins of 25-19, 25-16, and 25-15.
Sage said she liked the prospect of having multiple games in one week as it gives players the opportunity to tighten up any weak points.
“This close, they can fix things immediately and move on,” she said.
MCHS is now 6-6 overall and 3-2 in the conference. Before getting back to league play with a road game Oct. 9 against Coal Ridge, the Bulldogs will play Oct. 7 in Hayden and return home the next day to host Caprock Academy.
“I want to keep this winning streak going, it’s been really nice to have that energy,” Sage said.
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