BAYFIELD — Going the distance, very much literally as well as figuratively, Alamosa Volleyball completed Saturday afternoon a scheduling stretch the Mean Moose may not even wish upon their worst enemies.
With a five-match grind having commenced March 30 at 2A Hoehne, AHS invaded Bayfield hoping to not only recover from the previous night’s unsuccessful full-pull at 3A Intermountain-leading Montezuma-Cortez, but also to do so much faster.
Unfortunately, neither objective was achieved; forced into a tiebreaking fifth game for an improbable fifth consecutive outing—all on the road, mind you—Alamosa, at the time ranked eighth in the CHSAANow.com Class 3A poll, fell 29-27, 15-25, 25-19, 24-26, 13-15 against the then-No. 13 Lady Wolverines, the day after losing 14-25, 25-23, 17-25, 25-18, 3-15 at undefeated No. 10 M-CHS.
“We wanted to jump out and start with high energy—playing quick, that’s what works best for us,” said exhausted senior setter Lora Ortega, who registered an impressive 33-assist, 31-dig double-double inside BHS Gymnasium. “I think we just came in excited, ready to play.”
After the C and JV matches both went to tiebreaking third games (with AHS emerging victorious in each), the Moose stormed onto the scene, taking a 5-0 lead on senior Alyssa Crowther’s serve and forcing Bayfield into an unwanted timeout.
And though Alamosa’s lead would max out at 17-7, the Lady Wolverines fought back to not only tie at 21, but earn the serve at 24-23 following junior Annie Fusco’s back-row roll shot.
With extra points ultimately required, AHS would finally claim the game via sophomore Sydney Jackson terminating an Ortega back-set for a kill, then Fusco spiking wide down the line.
Expectedly incensed overseeing their comeback come up short, Bayfield made amends in Game 2, leading virtually wire-to-wire and evening the match via an Emily Nelson kill teed up by fellow junior Sage Killough.
AHS sophomore Avery Mobbley began Game 3 successfully jousting a ball against Nelson, and the Moose rode Crowther’s serving again to a 5-0 lead, which rapidly inflated to 8-1 before BHS began to steady. After senior Melissa Roberts smashed a near-vertical kill inside the far antenna, emphatically cutting Alamosa’s lead to 17-13, Annie Rice wisely took a timeout as the home fans’ volume reached its loudest yet.
And the Lady Wolverines got no closer than 17-15 before Alamosa separated and won on an Ortega tip and then a Mobbley-Mary Macias tandem stuff of Nelson.
Able to build a 5-2 lead early in Game 4, the Moose were not only able to fight off repeated Bayfield advances—a Fusco kill eventually re-tied the score at 13-all—before gradually reaching game point at 24-19 after Mobbley denied Brooke Merchant.
But somehow, someway Bayfield wouldn’t wilt; put on serve at 24-20, Nelson would remain at the line as two Roberts push shots, an Alamosa serve-reception error and a Macias attack sent long produced a 24-24 tie. Macias then sent a free ball long and out of play, before BHS’ unlikely rally met completion via a Moose setting error.
“Definitely it was, like, back-and-forth—we beat them very close—but it was (because of) a lot of motivation with each other,” Fusco said.
“We’ve been very motivated since the last time we lost to Alamosa…. What we’ve talked about is to play as a team, not individually; the team comes before yourself.”
Swapping evenly out to 4-4 in Game 5, helped by two of junior Malia Tuioti-Mariner’s eight kills, AHS would take a 7-4 lead after a Bayfield lift infraction, a Crowther tip and a Fusco hitting error. BHS would soon tie at 7-7, but the Moose responded with Crowther (13 kills, 21 digs) slamming a cross-court kill and senior Madi Martin zipping over an unreturnable serve.
Alamosa’s lead would reach 10-8 before the Lady Wolverines went on a sudden 4-0 burst capped by a booming Roberts kill off Ortega and a Nelson ace of libero Mila Cook (32 digs). Rice would soon have to use her second and final timeout after Roberts downed a kill for a 13-11 lead.
Inserted in place of Merchant, junior Karyssa Gosney’s serve attempt failed.
But Roberts, who’d finish with a match-high 20 kills at a vicious .452 percentage, struck back with a kill.
With the Lady Wolverines sitting on match point, 14-12, Mobbley managed to score with a tip and regain Alamosa the serve, but Killough (44 assists) again went to Roberts for the match-ender.
Fusco pounded down 11 kills at an error-offset .000 rate, and Nelson seven at .136. Nelson tallied a team-high 24 digs, while sophomore libero Myrah Abdallah-Boehm booked 20 and Fusco 16. Killough racked up a reported 13 to complete her double-double.
Mobbley, who downed seven kills offensively, was credited with 28 digs to go along with six total (1 solo, 5 assisted) blocks. Macias was in on a whopping 11 (5s, 6a) blocks, and Jackson (3s, 7a) also cracked double-digit denials. Tuioti-Mariner also exceeded 20 digs, finishing with a reported 26 in the marathon match.
Slipping temporarily into fourth place in the Intermountain behind BHS—against which Alamosa holds a 5-to-4 sets-won advantage during the teams’ regular-season split—the Moose (6-3, 3-3 IML) will next host Centauri (2-6, 1-5) Tuesday night, April 13. Having edged CHS in five—by scores of 15-25, 25-21, 13-25, 26-24, 13-15—the night before surviving AHS, Bayfield (6-3, 4-3 IML) will wrap up their league work the same night at Pagosa Springs (3-5, 0-4).
“Centauri…that’s a big rival(ry) game for us,” said Ortega. “I think we just need to work on keeping our energy high, not letting…one mistake turn into five, and just staying aggressive.”