Moriarty High’s volleyball team had a sizzling run while it lasted.
The Lady Pintos (18-7, 3-3) captured a district title, and after getting the ninth seed in the Class 4A state tournament, they took the top spot in the opening-round of pool play and swept Santa Fe Indian School in the quarterfinals before falling in the semifinals to top-seeded Sandia Prep last Friday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.
“They’re very, very good,” Moriarty head coach Kim Bell said of the No. 1 Sandia Prep Lady Sundevils who eventually won Saturday’s state championship. “They’ve got an entire club team, I’ve got two [girls who play club].”
It was Moriarty’s first trip to the semifinals in seven years, and despite losing Friday afternoon’s match to Prep 3-0 (12-25, 12-25, 11-25), each set was close in the early goings. It’s notable that even when it was apparent the season was slipping away, the Lady Pintos continued to battle and smile until the very end.
Each time Moriarty scored, the girls all ran together and celebrated as though they’d just won the state championship. “We’ve got kids who just want to play together and love each other,” Bell said.
After Moriarty’s victories over Hope Christian and Pojoaque Valley in last Thursday’s pool-play, the Lady Pintos advanced to Friday morning’s quarterfinals where they beat the No. 10 Santa Fe Indian School Lady Braves, 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-21).
Moriarty breezed through the first two sets but needed a strong finish to fend off the Lady Braves in the third set.
The score was tied 18-18 before the Lady Pintos mounted a 7-3 run to win the set and clinch the match.
The match point—with Alyssa Sauter serving—was scored by Emily Gonzales, who returned a volley with a one-handed tapper that the Lady Braves couldn’t handle.
“Alyssa [Adams] told me the donut was open so I was like, ‘All right, I’ll go donut,’ and it worked. That’s the definition of teamwork,” Gonzales said.
The “donut” refers to an area in the middle of the court that the opposing team’s defense leaves open.
“They had a nice run the last three weeks, they’re district champions and they proved themselves by winning their pool and getting to the top four—one match away from the finals—so I don’t think that’s too bad, they’ve had a great season,” Bell said, adding that the experience will benefit her younger players, like sophomore Malia Howe.
“It feels great, it’s really exciting,” said Howe, a 6-foot-2 opposite hitter. “Everyone played with a lot of energy.”