One would have to guess it only appropriate that if the Bayfield High School volleyball team was to lose Tuesday night to Durango, Demon senior star Millie O’Ketter would hammer a kill off fellow slugger and opposite number Mavis Edwards.
Having missed the teams’ first showdown on Oct. 1, O’Ketter certainly made an impact with the sort of two-way play which had already resulted in an NCAA Division I verbal commitment to Northern Arizona University and which BHS fans may have feared.
But with the match ending with a tight 15-12 score in a Game 5 tiebreaker, she was far from an end-all X-factor. And definitely not one whom Bayfield will reflect upon and say knocked their 2019 season off track.
“Having a kill and a burst of energy is nice for a team,” admitted Edwards, bested at the far-side antenna with the Wolverines’ senior night thriller hanging in the balance. “A big kill like that, it’s good to feed off for a while. But I think we need to work on keeping a consistent energy level the whole match.
“I think something important that our team has to remember is that when you have the ball, you have control of what you do. It’s not their side that makes the mistakes; it’s us.”
Such accountability will be the most important lesson Bayfield – ranked No. 8 in the CHSAANow.com Class 3A poll – can take from a five-set defeat and apply toward ending regular-season work Saturday at the Palmer Ridge Invitational in distant Monument.
“We have a good understanding of where our level should be, and we have to compete and learn to realize it,” head coach Terene Foutz said. “I mean, we are not satisfied with where we’re at at all. There’s a lot of learning to go, and I’m thrilled that we have more matches to try.”
The players have high hopes going into the weekend.
“We’re going to bring our game and we’re going to keep working hard in practice,” said senior libero Lana McKee. “Terene’s going to keep pushing us … and I think we’re going to do pretty good.”
After clinching second place in the Intermountain League this year with an 8-2 mark, the loss to Durango only slightly dinged BHS’ overall record to 14-5 prior to pool-play action Saturday.
With the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in each pool scheduled to begin the long day’s play, BHS – seeded third in Pool C – will start at 8:30 a.m. against Mullen. Ranked fifth in the Class 4A poll, Coronado will then face the Mustangs and wrap up the preliminary phase against BHS sometime around 11 a.m.
All pool-play matches will be best-of-three to 25 points, with any tiebreaking third game played to 15.
Pool A is set to include (in order of initial seeding) 5A No. 4 Broomfield, Air Academy and Doherty.
In Pool B will be 4A No. 3 Montrose, host No. 8 Bears and Silver Creek. Pool D will feature 4A No. 6 Discovery Canyon, Ralston Valley and Pueblo South.
Following pool play, the teams will be re-seeded into three four-team brackets and grind through two more best-of-threes to leave Monument with four matches added to their schedules.
If a tie exists between two crews after pool play, their head-to-head result will be used. When three teams are tied, their won/lost percentages will be used to determine bracket placement. If a tie still exists, point differential between the tied teams will be used.
Bracket battles are slated to begin around 1 p.m., with final matches set for around 5:30 p.m., though if play progresses swiftly, start times will be advanced.
“I think all of us are super pumped for it,” said BHS junior Melissa Roberts. “We have a lot of strategy, Terene’s an absolutely incredible coach, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be just fine.”
Palmer Ridge’s main and auxiliary gyms will open to all at 7:30 a.m.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Foutz said, “but we’re staying the course. We’re going to learn how to win as we go and respond under pressure. That’s not going to change.”
This weekend will be perfect preparation for the regionals which loom only a week later.
“We’re definitely in regionals now,” noted sophomore Annie Fusco, looking beyond the trip to Palmer Ridge. “I can’t wait to see how far we can go.”