Moffat County volleyball takes it to 5 sets for Senior Night versus Aspen |

Moffat County volleyball takes it to 5 sets for Senior Night versus Aspen

Andy Bockelman
Tayton Smercina celebrates a kill during a Moffat County High School volleyball match.
Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press

A win in their final home game would have been a great way to complement one of the best seasons in years for Moffat County High School volleyball, but, nevertheless, the Bulldogs still took it even further than they expected.

MCHS celebrated Senior Night Tuesday in the Doghouse leading up to their varsity game against the Aspen Skiers.

Younger players and coaches provided gift baskets, flowers and more for the upperclassmen of the program, including managers Rebekah Shingleton and Faith Weathers.

“They are a huge help; they’ve filmed games and taken stats for every game. Our managers are awesome,” said MCHS head coach Becca Sage.

As for athletes Abbe Adams, Jacie Evenson, Olivia Profumo, Taytum Smercina, and Reese Weber, Sage said that while she has only coached them since this August, they have been more than reliable.

Rebekah Shingleton, Abbe Adams, Olivia Profumo, Reese Weber, Jacie Evenson, Taytum Smercina and Faith Weathers pose for a photo at their senior night for Moffat County volleyball.
Andy Bockelman / For the Craig Press

“I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to coach that group of girls and get started with them because they’ve made it amazing,” Sage said.

Teammates shed more than a few tears during the ceremony.

“I love playing volleyball, but I’ll miss these girls more than anything,” Evenson said.

Adams added that competing alongside the same players since middle school and during club games has had a profound impact.

“We’ve been together for seven years, so it’ll be really hard to go our separate ways,” she said.

The Dog seniors also presented roses to Aspen 12th-graders Sadie Bayko, Laurel Yule, Riley Rushing, Reese Leonard, and Bella Haneman.

The night was somewhat bittersweet for Profumo in particular; she incurred an ACL tear during the team’s Oct. 19 game against West Grand, ending her season early.

Even so, she suited up for the night and took the court for the final time before heading back to the bench.

“I’m just glad that I got to play the whole rest of the season. They’re so fun to play with, and I’ve known them literally my whole life, so it’s like they’re my sisters,” Profumo said of her teammates.

Once the game began, the Bulldogs took an early lead with a four-point run that included kills by junior Makaela Simpson and Smercina bookending a big block by Adams.

Though Aspen caught up quickly, neither team could get too far in front of the other on the scoreboard, a margin of less than three points for the whole opening set. The Skiers maintained control near the end with an unreturned serve giving them the win at 25-23.

Aspen started with three swift points in the second round before Simpson got a kill in response, but the Skiers had a lead of 9-4 at the first timeout and a greater lead still at 21-12 by the next break before they concluded it 25-13.

Playing back from a 2-0 deficit, the Bulldogs were suddenly back on point in the third set as they forced more frantic play by Aspen. Midway through, the two squads were on such even footing they tied it at every moment between points 14 through 20. An ace by Adams and a kill by Smercina contributed to the five-point run, but the Skiers appeared to forgot how to count to three as they had too many hits at set point, the Dogs staying alive at 25-20.

Service errors were abundant on either end of the court in the fourth period, but as MoCo girls kept up their presence at the net, Aspen did the same with three players at a time in on blocks against hitters like Adams and Cayden King.

As the Bulldogs reached 20 first, the Skiers couldn’t slow them down much, as the final three points came from a kill by King then a tip by Evenson, who picked up an ace for another 25-20 victory to go into overtime.

“We took two sets away from them, which was awesome since they’re such a high-ranked team in our league,” Evenson said.

In the fifth set, Aspen started hitting harder than ever, no doubt to defend their probable chances of moving on to the playoffs, right on the cusp of qualification.

The renewed effort amounted to a 5-0 start for the Skiers and an 8-1 tally by the time MCHS coach Becca Sage called a timeout. Adams and King contributed small but meaningful tips and blocks as the night came to a close, but the Skiers closed it 15-6.

Despite the defeat, Sage pointed out that it was an excellent match nonetheless, with the team’s near-comeback a testament to their resolve, especially missing a key player like Profumo.

“I think that was the best game we have played the entire season,” she said. “They knew that getting in the other team’s heads was going to work, and the more confidence we had on our side the more kills and aces and everything we were able to get. I’m very glad that the emotions didn’t get to all of them, it actually motivated them.”

Smercina credited Sage with being their rock.

“This has been our best season yet, and Coach Becca changed this whole entire program,” Smercina said. “These girls who are coming up next year, they’re gonna be just fine.”

Moffat County volleyball moved to 4-5 in the 3A Western Slope League, and at 10-11 overall they still have the opportunity to end the fall with an even record as they take on Basalt on the road this weekend. A win over the Longhorns will secure them fifth place in the conference.

“If we just take this energy to Basalt, we will come out with a win,” Sage said.

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