After scratching and clawing its way to an intense five-set victory over the No. 3 Portales Lady Rams in the Class 4A state quarterfinals, Moriarty High’s volleyball team came up short in the state semifinals.

Both matches were last Friday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

The fifth-seeded Lady Pintos fell in the semis to the second-seeded Robertson Lady Cardinals 3-0 (15-25, 20-25, 21-25).

Moriarty finished the season with a 19-6 overall record, 4-2 in District 4-4A.

The Lady Pintos began the state tournament by finishing second in Thursday morning’s opening pool-play round against St. Mike’s and Shiprock, before easily sweeping No. 11 Hatch Valley 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-13) later in the day.

That victory set up a showdown against Portales in Friday’s quarterfinals—the fourth matchup of the season between the two teams. “It was nice to play a team that we were comfortable with,” Moriarty head coach Kim Bell said. “They’re a very good team, but we knew we could beat them.”

After falling behind in the first set by as much as 10 points, the Lady Pintos fought their way back to win 26-24 on Alyssa Adam’s kill.

Moriarty fell behind early in the second set and ultimately lost 20-25 to even the match at 1-1.

The score was tied 20-20 in the third set before the Rams went on a 5-1 binge to win the set and take a 2-1 match lead. That prompted Bell to rotate some of her players to give the Lady Pintos a different matchup, “and that little change really helped us,” she said.

Both teams exchanged points early in the fourth set before Moriarty forged ahead 16-10—on a few engaging volleys and a handful of diving defensive digs—before winning 25-15 to even the match at 2-2.

“I think at that point we really started playing together,” Moriarty’s Laney White said. “We just woke up and we came on strong—there was no stopping us.”

In the fifth and deciding set, Moriarty took control.

Up 7-5 with Ciara Mora serving, the Lady Pintos tallied 8 unanswered points, capped by consecutive attack kills by White and Malia Howe.

“You win that fourth game and you take the momentum into the fifth game, and it was textbook, they did exactly what they needed to do,” Bell said. “They took off and they played great, I’m really proud of them.”