The Hotchkiss High School volleyball team is finishing off the regular season the right way, with a couple of wins.
And like it has been all year, nothing came easy for the Bulldogs.
Hotchkiss went to Ouray on Oct. 13 and came away with a five-set thriller of a win. The squads traded sets as the Bulldogs won 25-22, then Ouray answered in the second set 25-21.
Hotchkiss needed extra points to win the third set 29-27, then the home team won set four 25-21.
The Bulldogs prevailed in the fifth set finale 16-14.
Two days later the Bulldogs went to DeBeque and came away with a consecutive five-set marathon victory over the Dragons.
Hotchkiss lost the first set 22-25, won 25-23, lost set three 17-25, then won the next two sets 25-14 and 15-13.
Ashley Ziemer led the Bulldogs with six kills in the win and Carson Collins knocked home four kills.
Morgan Miller paced the Bulldogs attack with 21 assists. Shay Glaser and Collins each had two blocks.
Hotchkiss snapped a long losing streak and improved to 6-12 on the season after the victories. The Bulldogs wrap up the regular season at home tomorrow night against Plateau Valley.
New Eagles Fly
The volleyball team from Paonia High School had to navigate a difficult portion of its schedule without one of its captains.
Senior Emily Pieper took time off from the team to go on a missionary trip for her church, so Paonia played its last three matches without its primary setter.
No problem for the Eagles, who won all three of them.
"We have a lot more options when she's setting, but I think in a sense it's been good for our team because kids have had to step into some roles that they're not used to doing," Paonia coach Krista Carsten said. "We've had to hit sets that we're not used to getting, and I think they've had to work harder to play together."
Junior McKenna Johnson, one of three McKenna's on the volleyball team, and sophomore Poppy Lightfoot stepped in to set for Paonia's power hitters in Pieper's absence.
In the wins over Rangely and Olathe last week, Lightfoot recorded 34 assists and 26 digs. Johnson helped the offense with a combined 26 assists in the wins.
"It benefitted us, I really think it did. It's going to make us a better team to experience that," Carsten said. "It will be nice to have her back so we can get our kids back in system."
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.