Estancia and Moriarty high schools’ volleyball teams got a good dose of competition last weekend in Moriarty’s annual volleyball invitational tournament with both squads walking away satisfied.

“I’m really happy with our finish—this was our best in a while,” head coach Kim Bell said of Moriarty’s fourth-place effort in the Gold bracket. “The girls did well in a very competitive tournament.”

Moriarty’s Alyssa Adams received All-Tournament honors.

Estancia’s head coach Glenda Noblitt—who’s back at the helm after a four-year hiatus—was equally upbeat about the Lady Bears’ second-place finish in the Silver bracket. “I love this tournament because we play some top-notch teams and it challenges us,” Noblitt said.

The annual early-season tournament comprises 16 teams ranging in size from Class 3A to 6A.

The tournament kicked off last Friday with a “pool-play” round to determine the brackets—with four pools consisting of four teams in each pool. The two teams that fared the best from each pool advanced to the eight-team Gold bracket, the remaining went to the Silver bracket.

The Class 3A Lady Bears’ pool play put them in the Silver where they blanked 4A Bosque School in Friday afternoon’s first round and 6A Carlsbad Saturday morning. Estancia won both matches by scores of 3-0. “In both of those, the teams were very similar,” Noblitt said. “We made them make more errors than we did.”

The two victories lifted Estancia into the Silver bracket title match against 5A Capital where the Lady Bears came within 2 points of claiming the crown.

Estancia rallied to win the first set 25-23 but lost 16-25 in the second set. The Lady Bears dominated the third set 25-14.

Up two sets to one, Estancia went on a 9-0 surge early in the fourth set to take a 10-3 lead. But Capital battled back and tied the score 20-20. The score remained knotted at both 23, and 24, before Capital scored 2 consecutive points to win the set and force a decisive fifth game.

The Lady Bears had a lead midway through the fifth set but couldn’t maintain it and fell 13-15, losing the match 2-3.

“I was really, really proud of how we did,” Noblitt said. “We were the smallest school here so when you beat those [larger class] teams it gives you a lot of confidence.”

After their pool-play round, the Lady Pintos faced their new District 4-4A rival Portales, and won the match in five sets. The fifth set was a barnburner that Moriarty won 17-15.

“It was a great match, very exciting, it could’ve gone either way but our girls pulled it out at the end,” Bell said. “It’s going to be interesting because we’re going to play [Portales] multiple times.”

With the win Moriarty took on Texico in the next round and lost 3-1; the Lady Pintos then fell to Valencia, 3-1.

“I thought we played well [against Texico] but we just came up a little short,” Bell said. “We didn’t play our best [against Valencia] but that’s all right, they’re a good team.”

Bell said the tournament helped identify some of the things the team still needs to work on. “It’s early, so we got a good chance to see where we’re strong and where we’re weak.”