A Montezuma-Cortez team loaded with senior talent went into Bayfield and got the better of the Wolverines on Tuesday night.
The Panthers raced out to a 2-0 lead after set wins of 25-23 and 25-22, as the Wolverines struggled with their serve. BHS (1-1, 0-1 3A Intermountain League) took the third set 25-21 and aimed to force a fifth, but Montezuma-Cortez prevailed 25-22 in the fourth set to win its opener.
“You know, I couldn’t be more proud of these girls,” Montezuma-Cortez coach Joye McHenry said. “Even more than of their skill set, of their attitudes and their support of each other and their work ethic. I could not be more proud of their effort tonight.”
BHS head coach Terene Foutz was proud of her team’s improved performance in the third and fourth sets and credited Montezuma-Cortez’s play at the net.
“Cortez is really good, particularly their outsides did a fabulous job of terminating balls,” Foutz said. “It was a great match, a scrap the entire way. It takes a lot of maturity in battling back hard, and we are going through that process right now. The third and fourth sets were really good, and we did show a solid fight. Cortez had to earn it, and they did, so kudos to them.”
Montezuma-Cortez junior Avery Wright was a force at the net all night paired with senior Myka Glover. Senior Kylie Lake also was problematic at the net, while Grace Olsen, another senior, provided some extra punch. The attack was set up by Panthers setter Dez Boeckman, who often delivered strong passes while on the run or out of position.
“It feels amazing,” Wright said of the win. “I think we’ve beaten Bayfield once in my high school career, so this was amazing to come and beat them in their own home. Loved it. I’ve been playing with these girls since seventh grade, when they were eighth graders, and we have such a good team group that this is going to be an amazing year.”
Many points went to long rallies, as the liberos shined on the back line. That was Amber Wood for Montezuma-Cortez, who kept multiple rallies alive as the match went on. Melissa Roberts, who excelled in the season-opening win at Delta for Bayfield, led the Wolverines with 10 digs.
Bayfield’s offense was directed by Sage Killough, who had 35 assists. Annie Fusco led the team with 17 kills, while Brooke Merchant and Melissa Roberts each had nine kills. The Wolverines tallied eight team blocks.
“We definitely came out aggressively toward the end; we just need to start with that, come out aggressive from the start,” Merchant said. “But our serving, I definitely think we can work a lot more on that. Our hitting, for the most part, we did pretty good on that.
“We have a lot of new players, and this was their first home game, so I feel like maybe we were a little anxious.”
Two more road league games await Montezuma-Cortez this week with a trip Friday to Alamosa and Saturday to Centauri. BHS will make the same trips this week but in reverse order.
“I’ve got four games in the next six days, so we’ve got a lot of playing to do,” McHenry said. “And we’re ready. We’ve been waiting since June, doing open gyms – these girls want to play. I have a lot of seniors, and we’re not done. We’re just going to get better.”
Joel Priest contributed to this report.[email protected]