Westerners put an end to NMMI’s postseason hopes with 75-65 victory in play-in game
NMMI Sports Press
The New Mexico Military Institute Lady Colt varsity volleyball team slipped to 4-5 on the season, following a loss at home vs. the Mescalero Apache Chiefs [3-2] in four sets: 25-17, 21-25, 25-21, 26-24.
In the beginning and middle of the first set, after NMMI had picked up the first two points, the Lady Chiefs dominated. They went on three separate runs, led by excellent serving, to go up 22-5.
Lady Colt senior Keena Roberts finally put an end to the last Chief rally, then served up three points for NMMI to make it 22-9.
Mescalero took the next two, to make it set point, 24-9. But NMMI’s comeback attempt had only just begun. Roberts got a kill to break the Chiefs’ serve, then sophomore Rilan Maloney knocked two to the floor to make it 24-12.
After a Mescalero timeout, NMMI collected another five straight, including two kills by frosh Matteya Vigil, an ace by Roberts, and a quick-set dink by senior Demitra Ulibarri, to make it 24-17.
The Chiefs finally managed to close out the match on block for the first set win.
In the second set, NMMI again let Mescalero jump out to a big early lead, 6-1, but this time battled back much sooner.
A kill by senior Casey Day brought NMMI back to within one, and another kill by freshman Celeste Martin tied it 6-6 – the first of six ties in the set.
Another dump set by Ulibarri gave NMMI their first lead of the match, 13-12. After ties at 13 and 14, NMMI went up by two, 17-15, after an Ulibarri ace.
Mescalero again managed to knot up the score a final time at 18, but the Lady Colts moved ahead 22-19 after a kill and then an ace by Maloney.
Roberts collected the final set point for NMMI on a kill attempt over the middle.
In set three, the Lady Chiefs again started off strong: a 6-0 run quickly turned into a 13-3 lead, then 18-9.
Another NMMI come back was in the works, however. A pair of aces by Day made it 20-14. Then two more points on serves by Roberts further cut the lead, 21-17. After giving up the next two points, NMMI managed another small four-point run before Mescalero managed the final set point.
Set 4 was the closest of all. Again the Chiefs ran out to an early lead, 9-3. A kill by Day made it 9-4 and she then served up four straight points to make it a 10-8 ballgame.
Another Mescalero run made it 16-9, but hard serves by Ulibarri again cut into that margin, 16-13.
After a tie at 19 came perhaps the longest and best rally of the night. The ball went back and forth at least 10 times to each side, with spectacular diving saves after big kill attempts, and desperate one-handers managing to salvage missed passes. NMMI walked away with the point to go up 20-19 – just their second lead in the match.
A block by Ulibarri made it 21-19. A kill by Roberts made it 22-20. A kill from the backrow by NMMI junior libero Dana Douglas made it 23-21.
But it was tied at 23s after an NMMI service error and a failed tip attempt.
An outside kill by Maloney brought the score to set point, 24-23, but the Chiefs went on a three-point run to close out the set and take the match.
“We’re slow at the start,” said head coach Stephanie Schooley. “We need to begin playing, at 0-0, with the same intensity that we’re playing with at the end of the game when it’s 23-22. We’re spotting teams too many points before we’re starting to play, and it’s just too hard to dig yourself out of holes that big.”
“It’s impressive the way we clawed our way back in those sets and make it a decent match,” continued Schooley. “I was excited when we got into double digits in the first set, and then we just continued to get more and more points and made it into a game. It says a lot about these girls, that they didn’t give up, but made the plays to get back, not only in the first set, but winning set two, being close in set three, and almost forcing a fifth set.”
“Physically we have the skills to do what we need to do to win, but mentally we need to get better prepared, especially at the beginning,” finished Schooley. “I also think we need to communicate better. When we talk to each other, pick each other up in between plays it helps us so much.”
Next up for the Lady Colts will be a road-trip to Vaughn to take on the 0-2 Eagles on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 5:00 PM MDT.