Tigers claw back after slow start vs. Moffat

The Grand Junction High School volleyball team learned a valuable lesson last week in its home opener against Eagle Valley.

A slow start means an uphill battle all night.

The Tigers alleviated that problem Thursday, defeating another Class 4A Western Slope League team, Moffat County, 25-14, 25-12, 6-25, 25-23.

“We’ve definitely got to get off to a better start,” Tigers coach Lynette Robinson said.

After falling behind 4-1 in the first game, the Tigers (4-2) rolled.

Since the start of practice in mid-August, Robinson has stressed the defensive side of the court.

Although Grand Junction had it moments on the attack, it was the defense that forced Moffat County into hitting errors that allowed the Tigers to pull away.

It was much the same story in the second game.

Wanting to give her substitutes some playing time in the nonleague match, Robinson went to her bench in the third game and the Bulldogs gained a little confidence.

“(Robinson) said, ‘Just erase that game, totally block it out,” junior outside hitter Julie Essman said of Robinson’s talk in the huddle before the fourth game.

That worked as, with the starters back in, the Tigers picked it up again.

Having won the third game, the Bulldogs had a little momentum going their way and hung with the Tigers point for point.

That’s when Essman went to work. Hitting from the right side, she recorded two kills and two blocks to help the Tigers score their last five points to win the match.

“It was good they didn’t fall back into that old trend (of losing momentum),” Robinson said.
Essman played in the middle last week but made the switch to the outside this week.

“The reason I played better was I was playing on the right side, where I like to be,” said Essman, who had six kills and three blocks.

As the fourth game got more intense, Essman said the team was forced to refocus.

“When you’re (easily defeating) them you don’t get a chance to play good defense, which leads to your offense,” she said.

That goes along with Robinson’s theory.

“Get in a rhythm, get going, and the offense will come, the kills will come,”  Robinson said.

The Tigers had two service errors in each of the four games, although they started two of the games with missed serves. That’s another area in which Robinson has put a lot of emphasis this season.

“We’re not necessarily going for aces,” Robinson said. “We’re trying to get them out of their rhythm.”

Grand Junction opens its Southwestern League schedule next week with road games at Fruita Monument, Durango and Montezuma-Cortez.


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