Things tend to get done better if those involved in the task all get along and share the same mindset.
Just ask Alamosa volleyball coach Annie Rice. In her second season as the coach of the Mean Moose, her team is on the verge of doing something the school hasn't seen since the early 1990's.
Her girls have 22 wins this year. If they can get one more win Thursday night against Monte Vista, they'll close out the regular season undefeated. What makes that accomplishment more special for the Moose is the fact that the players genuinely like each other. They're good friends and they've been able to enjoy this journey together.
“Our chemistry with the team, not just as teammates but as friends, has really helped a lot," junior setter Jordan Mobbley said. "We all want the same thing and we have the same goal. We’re all working together to reach that goal.”
And they're getting support along the way. Alamosa is not a big city by any means. The declared enrollment of the high school sits at 596. But the crowds feel big and they've certainly been loud for the Mean Moose.
Moose Nation’s 7th man: We don’t have 1000, 2000 or even 3000 students but the 300 (XC, SB, Soccer, Golf, Cheer, FB, Gymnastics) came together to cheer on the 4th ranked Volleyball Team to victory.#backmyschool @CHSAA @jryancasey @RhondaCHSAA @DanMohrmann @CHSAANow @floreser pic.twitter.com/cRreQC2u4G
— Erik W. Melgoza (@erik_melgoza) October 10, 2018
“It’s called our Rowdy Crowd," Rice said. "They’re so much fun. I think they have as much fun at the game as some of my players do. They’re supporting us, they’re doing a cheer together at the end. This community is pretty cool. It’s excited for the girls winning as anything.”
As it should be. Alamosa finished 13-11 in 2017. They advanced to regionals, but in their first match dropped a five-set heartbreaker to Colorado Academy. The Moose actually had a 2-1 edge, but couldn't hang on to win that third set.
They were later swept by Sterling, but the hope of playing at the state tournament at the Denver Coliseum had been extinguished with the loss to Colorado Academy.
“We had the skills to win at our region last year," Mobbley said. "We just weren’t confident in ourselves. This year since we have 22 wins under our belt, I think we’ll be a lot more confident.”
They still have the skills. And more importantly, the skills are concentrated on just one or two players. The Mean Moose are a prime example of a true team. Junior Taylor Motz, sophomore Terese Chavez, junior Emily Depriest and senior Sylvie Caton all have at least 130 kills.
Caton leads the team with 189 heading into Thursday's regular season finale.
“We don’t care who scores," Caton said. "We just want the team to score so we’re all there to help each other.”
And it goes back to the core makeup of this team. They care for each other, not as teammates, but as friends. It shows on the court and it showed in the way the team carried over from its heartbreaking end last season.
"They’re just a tight group," Rice said. "There’s a core eight (players), but they lifted together all spring and summer and they just do things together. They do things right and they play hard. Every practice is hard and competitive. They’re focused.”
Thursday night they'll be focused on completing an undefeated regular season. They enter the match with Monte Vista as the No. 5 team in the Class 3A CHSAANow.com volleyball poll. They currently sit at No. 3 in the RPI.. Then they'll have some downtime before regionals. The Moose aren't worried about a lull in competition heading into the postseason.
Two weeks of no matches will just allow them to remain focused in practice and make sure they're perfecting the things that have made them perfect thus far.
“Every practice we talk about making a statement and having no regrets," Caton said. "We work as hard as we can in practice so that the next match, we can play with no regrets and know that we’ve done our best.”
They only hope that their best can carry over and bring them on a journey to the Denver Coliseum for the 2018 state volleyball tournament.