Class 2A Mountainair
After cruising through last Thursday’s pool-play round and earning a bye in the first round, the fifth-seeded Mountainair Lady Mustangs lost 3-1 to the No. 3 Mora Rangerettes in Friday morning’s quarterfinal round.
“I think our girls got a little caught up in the moment and [Mora] hurt us on tips,” said Mountainair coach Heather Berkshire. “We haven’t really played a team that tips that much, we’re more used to power hitting.”
Mora took the first set 18-25, which started at 8 a.m. at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center.
Mountainair responded by winning the second set by the same score.
Mountainair led for most of the third set before Mora tied the game at 23-all and went on to win 23-25.
“That third set should’ve been ours, it was just the little mistakes,” said Mountainair senior Taylor Gikas.
The Lady ‘Stangs fought hard in the fourth set—a game that had 17 lead changes.
Down the stretch a blistering volley ended with Mora tying the score at 23. The Rangerettes sealed it with 2 more points–the last one on a tip that fell to the floor as Gikas and Mary Nelson made unsuccessful dives for the ball.
“We battled, but Mora’s super scrappy,” Gikas said. “It was an honor to play with the girls and coach Berkshire, and coach Zamora.”
After the match Berkshire said she’s leaving Mountainair.
In her four years at the helm she took the Lady ‘Stangs to state three times.
“I’m sad to leave the girls. I’m definitely going to miss them,” Berkshire said. “I wish them the best of luck.”
Class 5A Moriarty
Paired in pool play with No. 4 Los Lunas—which went on to claim the state crown—No. 9 Moriarty finished third in its pool and subsequently got eliminated by No. 7 Goddard in Thursday afternoon’s first round.
“I thought we played well—I’m not disappointed,” said Moriarty coach Kim Bell.
The first set was close throughout, with both teams exchanging leads. The Lady Pintos were still in it when they knotted the score at 22-22.
Goddard scored 3 final serve points to win the opening set.
Moriarty fell behind early in the next two sets and couldn’t catch up, losing 11-25 in the second and 14-25 in the third.
“This is the first year we’ve been here since 2011, not one of our girls has been to state. The environment is intimidating,” Bell said. “But I’m proud of them. I’m thrilled we could end our season playing as a team and I’m hopeful for our future.”
Two Lady Pintos who will be returning next year, Alyssa Adams and Emily Gonzales, were all smiles after their first state tournament match.
“It was really fun,” Adams said.
“It was exciting, a great experience,” added Gonzales.
Class 3A Estancia
The Lady Bears, who went undefeated in their district tournament to advance to state, finished third in Thursday morning’s pool play and were matched with the No. 5 Tohatchi Lady Cougars in Thursday afternoon’s first round at Cleveland High School.
Tohatchi swept Estancia 3-0.
The Lady Bears had trouble finding their footing in the first two sets, losing 15-25 and 10-25.
Estancia regrouped in the third set and came out with fire.
Leading from the outset, Anna Bishop’s kill gave the Bears a 7-4 lead, and Kaitlyn Chavez’ 4 serve points—capped with an ace—put Estancia up 12-8.
But Tohatchi fought back and tied the game down the stretch, ultimately winning 23-25.
“We should’ve won that last one but you know, coulda, woulda, shoulda,” said Estancia senior Leanne Calhoon. “But I’m not crying. I’m glad we got here.”
“They just didn’t wake up until that third set,” Pope said. “But this was a very successful season. We have a deep program and I think we’ll be contenders again next year.”
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.