The Hotchkiss Bulldogs are still seeking their first win in high school volleyball this season, but their play in recent matches shows that victory is right around the corner.
The Bulldogs went to Cedaredge and played the red hot Bruins last Friday and while they fell in three sets, Hotchkiss showed that it has all the pieces for a solid team and the foundation for the future is strong.
"We get better and better each day," Hotchkiss coach Taralee Williams said after the Cedaredge match. "I'm just focused on getting us ready for the next couple seasons."
The Bulldogs face tough competition in every match. Regional teams like Paonia, Cedaredge, Meeker and Rangely all offer different kinds of challenges for a young team to face.
"We do have some good teams in our league," Williams said. "We're young, and we can hang around with these teams now. So I have confidence we're going to be doing good things in the future."
In the first set against Cedaredge, Hotchkiss allowed a long service run that put them behind early. The Bruins capitalized on that momentum and won 25-8. Cedaredge (9-3) was coming off its huge win over rival Paonia last Thursday.
"I think we were kind of riding a high from last night and it was hard to come back and play again right away," said Bruins coach Heather Dunbar. "I wouldn't say that this was one of our best games, definitely not, but we persevered. Hotchkiss is a scrappy team."
Hotchkiss recovered from the quick loss in the first set and played some of its best volleyball in the second set. Carson Collins knocked home a kill to win sideout, then Ana Taboada served three winners in a row as the Bulldogs tied the set 14-14.
"That second game we really serve/received well, we passed well and we put up some blocks," Williams said. "That was the difference there."
Tyra Jaramillo, Sophia Fisher and Maddie Gutherie played well for Hotchkiss at the net in the second set, avoiding the net calls that plagued them earlier.
But then Lydia Knutson, one of seven seniors on the veteran Bruins roster, started heating up. Consecutive kills put them ahead 18-16, and Nellie Freeman hit home the last kill as Cedaredge took the second set 25-19.
"Those seniors are players that have been heavily relied on since they were sophomores," Dunbar said. "They have experience as well as talent."
It was all Cedaredge in the third set. Hannah Gilmore served a long run that put the Bruins in front 11-3, and she had some booming kills that upped their advantage. Freeman again had the honor of the last kill and the Bruins won 25-9.
"We improved since the first time we saw Cedaredge," Williams said. "We play together as a team, we don't get upset with each other and that makes a big difference, especially when we're down a little bit. That's the key there, to stand as one team, not individually."
Hotchkiss plays at DeBeque tonight and then is home on Friday night for homecoming against Rangely.