By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
While there might have been two games last week for the Moapa Valley High School Volleyball team, it was pretty clear there was just one highlight of the week. The Bulldogs of Virgin Valley came to town on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
But before the Pirates could meet their rivals, they first warmed up the home crowd with a game against the Cowboys of Chaparral on Monday.
The Pirates were their typical dominant selves against the Cowboys. The Pirates would win the match in three easy sets: 25-6, 25-12, and 25-12. Eden Whitmore and Shelbi Walker had 10 and 5 kills respectively.
Then on Wednesday, Pirates fans packed the stands to watch their team take on their biggest rivals. The Bulldogs came into town looking to prove themselves to the top seeded Pirates, who remain undefeated in league play.
In the first set, the Pirates showed why. Before the Bulldogs could take the time to settle into the gym at MVHS, the Pirates were up 13-4. That was thanks, in part, to a block party hosted by Aria Messer and Dannika Gordon. The team would stay consistent for the rest of the first set, and get started with a 25-11 win.
In the second set, things started out a little closer. Virgin Valley and Moapa traded points and it was tied at 4-4.
However, Messer stepped up to serve for Moapa. She would end up serving ten consecutive scores for the Pirates as they suddenly held another double digit lead.
Shelbi Walker stepped up in the set and had a few kills for the Pirates, as did Dannika Gordon.
But the highlight of the second set was at the tail end in the emergence of Eden Whitmore. Whitmore had three kills, a block, and an ace, in just the final ten points of the set. Second set ended with a 25-14 victory for the Pirates.
But the Pirates weren’t done yet. In the third, the girls jumped out to an 11-1 lead. Whitmore continued to put on a show for the home fans.
Sure enough, the Moapa lead would be insurmountable. They’d win the third set 25-10 and claim a sweep in the match.
“It was very rewarding as a coach to see the girls with that look in their eye, and the determination that they were going to make a statement loud and clear that they mean business and are here to stay,” said Pirates head coach Mandie Matheson.
As for the blocks early on, Matheson said, “We did practice that the day before. We worked with the girls on their timing on how to time their blocks more effectively. It was minor, but we worked on it. We knew where their offense was coming from. But the biggest thing we needed to do was serve tougher and pass better.”
Matheson praised her hitters as well, a group that features seniors Whitmore, Walker, and Gordon. “I was extremely proud of the way my hitters made themselves a weapon,” she said. “That was something we worked on in practice was making yourself a weapon whether the ball was in system or out. It gave them the confidence to see they can make a big play even if the ball is out of system.”
The team didn’t take too much time to soak in the victory. Instead they turned their sights to bigger things. “We immediately put our nose to the grind the next day,” Matheson said. “We have a goal in mind, while that was a great win, the girls keep it in perspective and know they still have to get better. It’s just keeping those things in perspective and improving as a team.”