The enemy of their previous enemy could have been their best friend.
It was the situation last Saturday morning Bayfield volleyball never wanted, much less even remotely expected to encounter at the 2014 Class 3A state championships.
And the Wolverines, seeded third in the tournament's initial 12-team pool-play phase, knew that 10-seed (and Intermountain League rival) Pagosa Springs probably couldn't do them a supreme favor:
Shock Manitou Springs in the same way the Mustangs had surprised BHS the night before.
But in having experienced MSHS' hitting and impressive defense, Pagosa succumbed 25-19, 25-6 and 25-13, officially ousting Bayfield (23-4 overall) as well as PSHS (19-8).
Earlier Friday, BHS finished a 25-19, 25-11, 25-8 rout of Pagosa in the event's fourth match, and BHS hoped to finish up quickly against Manitou Springs as well.
Senior Caitlin Phelps tossed up the first serve against MSHS, last year's state runner-up. The attempt went into the net, but a subsequent Kirstie Hillyer spike and Maddi Foutz kill quickly erased it from memory.
Another Hillyer kill put the Wolverines up 4-3, but after Manitou's McKenzi Petricko put down a ball to tie, the Mustangs rode four consecutive Bayfield miscues and a Taylor Benedict dink to a 9-4 advantage, forcing Wolverine coach Terene Foutz into a needed timeout.
BHS didn't recover, ultimately trailing by as many as 10 points on three occasions before 5'9" junior setter Angela Jensen blocked 5'9" Wolverine senior Jessie Roukema to win Game 1 25-16. Eleven of their last points came directly via Bayfield errors.
Stirred, but not completely shaken, BHS utilized Roukema (8 kills, 2 errors, .300 efficiency) well to fight for and take a 9-6 lead early in Game 2, before three straight errors pulled the Mustangs level at 9-9.
After a swift back-and-forth, MSHS' last advantage came when junior Katie McKiel cracked a kill off Phelps for a 14-13 lead. Hillyer (16k/9err/.212, 1 blk) answered with a surprise dink to tie, the first point in a 10-0 streak that made the Mustangs play from behind until the game's end.
Back-to-back aces by McKiel brought Manitou back to 23-17, and the Championships' 6-seed scrapped back to 24-22 before Hillyer smashed a kill to even the match at one game apiece.
Undoubtedly seeking a repeat engagement with 2013 champions Eaton, MSHS led nearly start-to-finish in Game 3-taking the lead at 2-1 and allowing Bayfield to come only as close as 10-8 on a Foutz ace and 12-10 on a McKiel hitting error before winning 25-14 on a Petricko (15k/0err/.652, 4blk) tip.
With eight ties-of-score before either side reached double digits, Game 4 truly displayed that both squads were of the same winning mentality. And looking to preserve exactly that, BHS' boss called a quick timeout after Manitou Springs took an apparently innocent 11-9 lead.
But after the pause, the Wolverines still couldn't get back on even footing with the Lady Mustangs, and Bayfield clawed back to within a point just once more-at 14-13 after kills by Foutz and Roukema-before finally falling 25-21 when senior setter Suzie Rhodes sent her last serve long.
Manitou's maximum advantage was at 19-14, but after a BHS timeout, it was quickly whittled back down to 19-17 and later 21-19 on a Hillyer block. But Petricko and McKiel proved too potent offensively down the decisive stretch, and defensive work helped Manitou secure the day's major stunner.
Manitou's defense kept Rhodes to only 16 assists. Foutz finished with eight kills against MSHS and also had 10 versus PSHS at a combined .300 clip, and also totaled 18 digs. Sophomore Emily Bauer racked up 17 and finished with six kills, while Phelps totaled seven kills and senior defensive specialist Martina Moreno had as many digs.
Hillyer totaled an impressive eight aces and Phelps finished with five, and the Wolverines also got three digs from hard-luck freshman libero Sydney Gabbard in her state debut.
Finishing 23-5 overall, Manitou's luck finally ran out in the semi-finals as eventual state runners-up Gilcrest Valley eliminated them in four games. Gilcrest Valley then advanced into the season's grand finale against Patriot League arch-nemesis Eaton.
Eaton swept Gilcrest Valley (25-4) to cap a 28-1 season, winning 25-22, 25-13, 26-24.