In the final regular-season volleyball match for both area high schools, Mountainair’s Lady Mustangs won the first set against Estancia, but it was the Lady Bears who secured the March 27 victory on their home court.
Estancia won in five sets, 3-2 (18-25, 25-22, 25-22, 22-25, 15-12).
The match was also the last hurrah for Estancia’s longtime head coach, Glenda Noblitt, who is moving to Oklahoma in June.
“Yeah, it’s a little emotional,” Noblitt said after the match. “This could be my last game here ever, after 15 years.”
Each set was close, and the Lady Mustangs came out on top in the opener.
In the second set, Estancia’s Samantha Hernandez’ game-winning kill evened the match score at one game apiece.
The third set was a back-and-forth battle from the first serve, with the score tied at 4-4, 12-12, 19-19, and 22-22.
The Lady Bears were up 24-22 with Kimber Perkins serving when Mountainair’s Zoey Brazil tapped the ball at the net and it fell untouched to the floor, appearing to give the Lady Mustangs the point. But the referee ruled an illegal push and turn, giving the point—and the set—to the Lady Bears for a 2-1 match lead.
Estancia manufactured early leads in the fourth set with spreads of 9-2 and 11-3 before Mountainair came roaring back—using an 8-2 run on five consecutive service points with Alyson Dew at the line—to cut the margin to 13-11.
The Lady Bears forged ahead 20-15 but the Lady Mustangs rallied to knot the score at 20-20.
With Estancia up 22-21, Dew stepped to the service line again and the Lady Mustangs scored four straight points, one on an ace and the other on a game-winning kill by Brazil to even the match at 2-2.
“We dug ourselves some holes, but we actually came back in that fourth set out of a big hole,” Mountainair head coach Sheldon Roberts said.
In the decisive fifth set, Estancia built leads of 7-2 and 10-5 before Mountainair rallied to close the gap to 13-11.
The Lady Bears were up 14-11 when Mountainair scored to make it 14-12 and gain the serve. But with Sara Jo Griego at the line, the match ended when her serve went into the net, giving Estancia the 15-12 win.
“It was a good battle, we knew it’d be a battle coming in,” Roberts said. “They just played a little better in spells than we did. But to me, it was really important that our girls didn’t just roll over.”
After the match, Noblitt reflected on her players, particularly the ones she’s been coaching for several years—who she calls her “rainbows and unicorns.”
“All season, through the ups, downs, even when they’re struggling, they’re still kind and good to each other, it’s been real enjoyable, such a great group of girls to finish with,” Noblitt said, adding, “Sometimes, I think you just gotta relish and enjoy things, especially this year more than ever, it couldn’t have been with a better group of girls—they remind me every single day just to enjoy the ride, and enjoy each other.”
Both Mountainair and Estancia earned berths in the volleyball state championships that got underway this week. The Lady Mustangs earned the No. 7 seed, and the Lady Bears got the No. 8 seed.