With a victory over the Desert Academy Lady Wildcats in the Class 3A state quarterfinals, Estancia High’s volleyball team advanced one round farther than last year.

But the Lady Bears’ season ended with a loss to top-ranked Texico in the semifinals.

The No. 4 Lady Bears (19-4, 9-0 district) got swept by the eventual state champion Lady Wolverines 3-0 (11-25, 14-25, 15-25) last Friday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

It was a different story earlier in the day when the Lady Bears did some sweeping of their own over the No. 10 Lady Wildcats 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-23).

In the first set, Estancia fell behind early and played catch-up until tying the scores at 19-19, 21-21, and 23-23.

A net ball by Desert gave the Lady Bears the lead—and the serve—and a kill by Mariah Aday sealed the 2-point win. “We were a little nervous in the first game,” Estancia head coach Glenda Noblitt said. “Then we stopped making hitting errors and we got some momentum going and carried that into the second game.”

Scarlett Gonzalez, left and Reagan Walker guarding the net during a serve.

Estancia never trailed in the second set, and after two consecutive service aces by Taylor Smythe, the Lady Bears held a commanding 18-9 lead.

A soft tap-down by Callie Larson fell untouched to the floor to seal the win and gain a 2-0 margin in the match. “I think we just really stayed together,” Smythe said. “It was all about teamwork.”

In the third set, the Lady Bears once again struggled early before tying it at 15 and the game remained close till the end.

Estancia volleyball coach Glenda Noblitt instructing her players between sets.

“I did not want to go into another set because I was pretty much done,” Larson said. “But with every point we got really excited and that brings us close together and lets us all know, ‘I’ve got your back, no matter what.’”

The score was tied four more times—up to 23-23—before Aday’s kill made it 24-23. Scarlett Gonzalez’ kill gave the Lady Bears the set and the match.

“Going out there and playing like a team was amazing, we played 100 percent as a team,” Smythe added.

Noblitt acknowledged that she’s losing some key seniors but is hopeful for next season. “We’re excited,” she said. “My goal is not to rebuild next season but to reload.”