Basalt squeaks past Moffat County volleyball in narrow Saturday match
For Craig Press
Two points is all it might take to win a volleyball game, and while earning a victory by a margin that narrow might be satisfying, the squad that’s on the other side of it is left wondering what might have been.
Especially when it happens twice in one day.
Moffat County High School varsity volleyball fought to their utmost Saturday but came up short against the Basalt Longhorns in three straight sets.
Despite an early led in the opening round, Lady Bulldogs ended the first set behind 25-23 against the 3A Western Slope League opponents, returning to conference play after 3-0 defeat Wednesday in Steamboat Springs.
Things got rougher from there, as they fell 25-12 in the next set with plentiful side outs hurting them.
Round 2 has been a crucial crux that MCHS coach Jessica Profumo has emphasized to her players as the point to either turn things around after a loss in the first or, in the case of being 1-0, keep things going smoothly to build momentum.
“Our goal is to have a good second set,” she said. “Last year that was the same situation; I focused on it, then they focused on it and started having really good second sets. Hopefully, that’ll be our thing for the second half of the season.”
Nevertheless, the MoCo crew persisted in their third go, and even as Basalt got some steam behind them, a late rally allowed the blue and white to surge to a 24-all situation, ensuring they would go at least a couple more points.
With match point delayed for the time being, coach Profumo gathered her athletes for a timeout pep talk.
Although Bulldog hearts were full of hope, a perfectly placed kill by the Longhorns let Basalt get to the 25 mark. An attempt by Olivia Profumo to mirror the sizzling spike came with a little too much strength as the ball shot past Basalt’s back row to end the day 26-24.
Though she would have preferred to include the final hit in her statistics, Olivia still had six kills to lead her team in the match, with fellow juniors Abbe Adams and Taytum Smercina each boasting four.
Even if the day ended with a loss, Olivia noted the group’s energy was greatly improved.
“We definitely expected more competition since Basalt is ranked so high in the league,” she said. “I think we came out and played pretty tough, and I could tell the energy was high and intense the whole time. When it gets close like that, you’ve got to focus and make sure you’re working hard and playing tough.”
Ashlyn Simpson agreed it remains key for the group to not let difficulties get them down.
“Our team is so hard on themselves, so I think if we move past it and just go to the next ball, we can do it. I think we’re all really good at communicating and keeping energy up and adjusting to their hits and serves,” she said. “We fought through it all in the last set and gave it our all.”
Now 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the conference, the Bulldogs remain in the mid-to-low region of the WSL rankings, with Basalt looking likely to take the conference title with no losses yet to any league opponents.
“Basalt beat Coal Ridge and Delta, so they have a good team,” coach Profumo said. “They run a fast offense, but they hit to the same spot every time, and we knew that and tried to adjust.”
She added that the way MoCo girls handled Basalt’s style was encouraging.
“I was happy because they came out aggressive. I told them I don’t want to see just pass, pass, pass the ball,” she said. “I’d rather you guys practice playing aggressive all the way to 25 and eventually you’ll start winning them.”
MCHS will be on the road for a long clip, including Monday in Delta and a weekend trip that includes Grand Junction’s Caprock Academy and Cedaredge on the schedule. April 22 sees the Lady Dogs in Parachute against Grand Valley before the following weekend back at home for Senior Night with April 24’s season finale with Roaring Fork.
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