Steamboat Springs The last point whimpered to the ground on an error at the net. The six girls on the Bulldogs side of the court exploded in cheers before the deluge of Moffat County fans stormed their home floor to celebrate a feat that had not been accomplished in 16 years - beating Steamboat Springs.
The Bulldogs (2-3 in league) pulled off the upset by ratcheting down their defense and digging to keep rallies and their momentum alive to win the five-game match, 22-25, 25-23, 11-25, 25-23, 15-9.
"We've been in this gym so many times and squeaked out," said Wendy Hall, coach of the Sailors, now 3-2 in league. "We didn't squeak out, they earned it in the end."
Starting off sloppy with mistakes early from both sides, the first game went back and forth to a tie at 22 points before Steamboat pulled ahead with a kill from Erin Gleason and a game point ace served from Kacey Bull, who served perfectly from the line.
"We were trying to get over their block in the middle," said Moffat County's Markie Workman, who led her team with 10 blocks. "But we were really alert with their cross. We practiced a lot of D yesterday."
Moffat County turned its defense on in the second game, and after giving up an early lead, the Bulldogs came back with a pair of kills from Angie Charchalis and a key block and game-sealing kill from Amy Dilldine.
"It feels good to see progress," said Brianna Montgomery, winning her first match as head coach for the Bulldogs. "We really worked on our defense last night, and we were awesome on our digs."
Steamboat rallied to win Game 3 decisively, as the Sailors turned their hitting game on behind Natalie Nichols and Katy Gary, who lead her team with 10 kills.
Although Game 4 produced the hardest-fought rallies and dramatic kills traded between Gary and Lizzie Stoll for Steamboat and Dilldine and Kari Griffin for the Bulldogs, Steamboat could not minimize errors to keep its late-game comeback alive.
"There was a loss of hope, and knowledge we could've done it, but we had those little errors and mental breakdowns," Gary said.
Carrying serious momentum from the tight, 25-23 finish in Game 4, the Bulldogs played their best in the tie-breaker fifth game, notching three serving aces on their way to a 15-9 win.
"It was pretty intense," Charchalis said. "Everyone was on top of their games, and everyone stepped up."
As the giddy Bulldogs celebrated their victory, the Sailors solemnly sulked back to their bus, disappointed to end an impressive win streak.
Despite the loss, Hall was disappointed in her team's performance, noting the improvements she saw in her team playing together on the floor and players assuming leadership roles.