East Mountain High School’s volleyball team made school history this week, but the climax was a bit of a blur on the court.

On the heels of a winning season, East Mountain earned its first-ever berth in the volleyball state championships and got a high-enough seed, No. 8, to host the Nov. 9 opening play-in round of the Class 3A tournament.

During that play-in match, the Lady Timberwolves stormed back from a first-set loss to knock off the ninth-seeded Santa Fe Prep Blue Griffins 3-1 (7-25, 25-21, 25-21, 26-24), giving East Mountain its first-ever state tournament victory.

After the win, players and coaches from East Mountain’s bench rushed the court—many of them in tears—but few could remember the match-winning point.

“Honestly, I think I blacked out,” East Mountain’s head coach Kasi Giovenco said about the end of the match. “I think it was either Shandi or Carolyn—but this is historic, this is Cinderella right now.”

“I don’t even remember,” said senior Carolyn Jones, who was the last East Mountain player to touch the ball.

“I was so nervous,” said Shandi Gonzalez, who lofted the final serve of the game. “I just saw that we got the point, and I was so excited. It was just so many emotions. I was super excited.”

The momentous match-winning moment went down like this: late in the fourth set, with East Mountain clinging to a slim 25-24 lead, Carolyn Jones lofted a free ball over the net to the Blue Griffins’ side of the court. Santa Fe Prep’s setter bumped the ball up, Jones and teammate Rachelle Montez guarded the net for a possible block, but the ball never came back. It just plopped to the floor, and pandemonium ensued.

“Carolyn returned a hard free ball with some spin on it, their setter set [the ball] and didn’t push it far enough, and it just fell between their middle hitter and their outside hitter,” Giovenco said after looking at a video replay of the game’s final moment. “It could’ve been a communication breakdown on their part because it just fell between two players.”

The match started off in forgettable fashion for East Mountain as Santa Fe Prep jumped out to a commanding 10-point lead in the opening set and pounded the Lady Timberwolves 25-7.

“Oh yeah, they handed it to us,” Giovenco said about the opening set. “I really think it was jitters.”

The second set was close until the end when East Mountain forged ahead with the help of consecutive serving aces by Naomi Eberling. The Lady T’Wolves sealed the win with Gonzalez’ attack kill, tying the match 1-1.

The third set was also close until the end and was tied at 21-21 when Santa Fe Prep’s net serve gave East Mountain the go-ahead point and shifted the serving back to the Lady T’Wolves. East Mountain scored the final three points, winning on a Gonzalez ace that hit Santa Fe Prep’s libero in the face.

“I felt bad, I was like, poor girl,” Gonzalez said.

With East Mountain leading two sets to one, the fourth set was a back-and-forth battle with several lead changes.

Santa Fe Prep built an early 7-2 advantage, but East Mountain took the lead on an 8-0 run with Jones serving. She tallied three consecutive aces during the rally.

“I feel like that was the emotional turning point for us,” Jones said. She led the Lady T’Wolves with four aces in the match.

The Blue Griffins refused to go quietly, tying the game at 16-16 and 19-19 before taking leads of 22-20 and 23-22.

Gonzalez’ kill tied the score at 23-23. She led East Mountain with 10 attack kills.

Santa Fe Prep took one last lead at 24-23, but East Mountain tied the game at 24-all when a lengthy volley ended on a side-out point for the Lady T’Wolves.

Gonzalez took over the serving duties and East Mountain scored two more points to win the match.

‘It’s everything that you always want as a coach and you dream for,” Giovenco said. “These girls came together, and they fought hard—It’s just so awesome.”

With the win, East Mountain advanced to the next round of the 3A state tournament where the Lady T’Wolves faced No. 1 Robertson on Nov. 12 at Rio Rancho High School.