Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lady Bulldog volleyball team goes undefeated in Border Wars

A strong offensive push by Hardin’s Lady Bulldog volleyball team took them to the top of last weekend’s Border Wars tournament as they swept through Wyoming teams from Buffalo, Powell, Lovell and Worland.
Head Coach Tiffany Moullet, in her six years with the Ladies, can’t recall the last time they went undefeated in Border Wars.
Despite their eventual victories, they came close to suffering a loss on the outset. Hardin had an uneven start in their first two sets with Buffalo, falling behind 0-9 in the first set. Buffalo had especially good hitters, Moullet said, including one who “could hit the ball better than anyone we’ve ever seen.”
According to Moullet, she was impressed with her team’s ability to not be intimidated and update their playing strategy to earn victories in all three sets: 26-24, 25-22 and 25-19.
“Our big focus is celebrating the little victories – making a mistake, owning our failure, fixing it, moving on and celebrating the little things that go right,” Moullet said. “They ended up taking [Buffalo’s major hitter] off the other team’s offense because we started figuring out her tendencies.”
Though the team’s defense needs work, Moullet said, she added that Katie Murdock, the team’s libero, “was outstanding, just outstanding. She was just a digging machine. Nothing hit the ground around her.” Murdock remained this way, Moullet continued, throughout the Border Wars tournament.
Next up was Powell, where Moullet said the team shot ahead for the sets they won and “bungled” the ones they didn’t.
“That was a weird match, we were up and down,” she said. “I was a bit worried because Powell’s…just a good all-around team.”
Though the sets were tumultuous, the Ladies eventually took Powell in five sets: 16-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-13 and 15-6.
Lovell went a bit smoother for the Ladies, though they did start slowly and fail to catch up in the first set. For the remaining three sets, Moullet said, the team “blew through them pretty easily.”
“We played in the morning and – no excuses – I told the girls they needed to wake up,” Moullet said. “After the first set, they figured it out.”
The Ladies’ final bout with Worland, Moullet said, “was by far the most exciting match of the entire weekend.” As with Powell, she continued, the losses and wins during the five-set smackdown were often decided by large margins.
In 2015, Worland won the Wyoming State High School Class 3A Volleyball Championship.
“We’ve never beat Worland; they’re a really good team,” Moullet said. “They’re smart players with an amazing defense. We had a hard time putting the ball on the ground. It was hard fought with [back-and-forth] volleys. It was the last match of the day and everyone was cheering.”
By the last set, Moullet said, the Ladies “ran away with it.”
The Lady Bulldogs will be playing their first home game at 4 p.m. on Saturday against the Miles City Cowgirls.
Border Wars results (Hardin stats):
Hardin def. Buffalo (26-24, 25-22, 25-19)
Assists: 30 – Shea Esp 30; Kills: 63 – Demi Uffelman 15, Mariah Simmons 9; Blocks: 6.5 – Simmons 4; Aces: 8 – Shaunita Nomee 4; Digs: 47 – Katie Murdock 17
Hardin def. Powell (16-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-13, 15-6) 
Assists: 42 – Shea Esp 41; Kills: 52 – Mariah Simmons 16, Nicole Green 12, Demi Uffelman 12; Blocks: 7 – Mariah Simmons 2.5; Aces: 12 – Arena Plenty 4; Digs: 78 – Katie Murdock 17, Natalie Edgar 15, Demi Uffelman 13
Hardin def. Lovell (24-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-14)
Assists: 37 – Shea Esp 34; Kills: 48 – Demi Uffelman 16, Mariah Simmons 15; Blocks: 3 – Simmons 2; Aces: 12 – Natalie Edgar 5; Digs: 57 – Katie Murdock 12, Shea Esp 11
Hardin def. Worland (15-25, 25-20, 15-25, 27-25, 15-10)
Assists: 41 – Shea Esp 38; Kills: 49 – Mariah Simmons 17, Demi Uffelman 10; Blocks: 3 – Simmons 2; Aces: 6 – Natalie Edgar 4; Digs: 89 – Katie Murdock 33