Like a spark searching out dry tinder to ignite, three consecutive Mavis Edwards aces were unable to generate the sort of sustained heat Bayfield required to stay alive in their Aug. 28 season-opener versus Piedra Vista.
Able to whittle the Farmington visitors' Game 1 lead down to as little as 17-15 behind senior Rachel Bauer's serving, Edwards' Game 2 success streak not only brought the Wolverines to tie the Panthers at 9-9, but gained a 10-9 advantage and undoubtedly had PVHS boss Ron Becker contemplating a timeout-as he'd done to slow Bauer's earlier roll.
"We decided we weren't going to play with a mindset that PV is a higher-ranked team than us; we decided to play with the mindset that we have the strength to compete at their level," said Bayfield senior Jannika Pope.
Knowing the importance of a two-game lead in a best-of-five against their Four Corners-region arch-rival, the Panthers managed to not only get Edwards off serve and tie Game 2 at 10-10, but then strung together seven crippling points behind senior Angelica Sabol's serving and ultimately took Game 2 by a wider 25-15 margin.
Deciding to make a formation change for Game 3, BHs Coach Terene Foutz was pressed into taking a timeout early, after senior Tayln Miller's one-on-one block of Edwards, a Rasmussen kill, and an errant Pope attack left the Wolverines down 8-2 on BHS Gymnasium's refinished floor.
And as Piedra Vista's players continued to pick up their pace, their shouts became louder with each point, peaking when they denied Bayfield freshman addition Annie Fusco for a 25-10 win and three-game sweep. Both teams left knowing they can only climb higher.
"We really need to focus on serve-receive; that was our biggest weakness," Pope said. "So we're going to nail it down - to the fundamentals - and just start over, just be better. We're a pretty 'new' team - not a lot of us played varsity last year - but I would say our goal tonight was just to play as hard as we can and prove ourselves, show Bayfield we can fight for what we want."
BHS travels to Monte Vista on Thursday to begin 3A Intermountain work against the Pirates (0-2, 0-0 IML). PVHS will welcome Bayfield on Oct. 9 in Farmington for the teams' rematch.