ALAMOSA - Orientation apparently couldn't come soon enough for Courtney Bayles.
As if being chosen to play in the 2018 Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games' volleyball competition wasn't special enough, Bayfield's graduated setter did so on the Adams State University campus she'll soon be calling home.
"It was a really awesome thought," said the ASU recruit. "To have this experience, in the same college that I will be playing in? I think that's the coolest experience I could have got, to be able to play here before I actually 'go up' to college and meet all the other girls!"
One of those ASU players, 2A Hoehne's Shaelyn Walton, unfortunately happened to play for the 'White' side, which closed out the four-team, four-match challenge Saturday, June 9, defeating Bayles's Black team two sets to one. But the fact the tournament came down to a tiebreaking third set, ending 15 to 10, didn't surprise Bayles.
"Neither team let up on each other. We just kept pushing each other - it was one of the hardest matches I've ever played," she said. "It was really evenly-matched; it was point for point, run for run."
While Black defeated Blue to reach the championship, the Red team, including Ignacio setter Shoshone Thompson, wasn't as fortunate in the semifinal stage and fell to White as 2A Simla's Jerraldawn Rector smashed a kill off 5A Colorado Springs Coronado's Delaney St. Pierre on match point.
"We were all really excited, especially to play the White team because they were a little more competitive," said Thompson. "But we were all excited to get on the court and just play our favorite game."
Left to face Blue for third, the Red team handled business and Thompson's prep days ended on a high note.
"We had some good passes and hits," she said. "As a whole it was really amazing, you know? There's a lot of different girls from different school sizes; it's really neat to play with others that have different levels of experience. Our team bonded really fast.so that was really cool."
Thompson said that traveling to play in the Down Under Games earlier in her IHS career definitely helped quicken that important process.
"When you're thrown together - a bunch of girls who don't know each other - sometimes you have to just be outspoken, try to really, really connect with your team," she said. "I had to do that in Australia, and here, it was a lot easier with the communication, being loud and everything. So it really helped out."
"The first practice we were kind of all over the place," recalled Bayles, of her team's initial meshing. "But after that first night all of us just bonded together and we started playing together as a unit; all of us got along really well, which made it easy."
"Just to have that experience - the football game, we had a little pizza-party thing after the first night - was just really fun," she added. "Got to meet people from all over the state of Colorado, the greatest athletes within the state, which was really awesome. I created some really great bonds with some girls this weekend that I'll get to keep for the rest of my life."