The Intermountain League's "house of pain" is still in full effect.
And everyone in the place had to give full respect. Not only to the five Wolverine seniors for emphatically playing their final regular-season home match, but BHS Volleyball as a whole. The team pummeled Pagosa Springs 25-17, 25-12, 25-16 in IML action.
"We had a good feeling about tonight," said Head Coach Terene Foutz. "I mean, when you really think about the record these kids have forged, (30-0 in league, and still counting) tonight was not going to be a fluke for them," said head coach Terene Foutz. "They weren't going to leave it to chance."
"I thought it went pretty good," senior setter Suzie Rhodes said. "Yeah, we had a few serving errors, but that's just things that we can work on to improve our skills. Other than that, we stayed together and that's what really matters."
Senior Caitlin Phelps, who'd tossed up the match's opening serve, had a chance to end the night from the line, but the Lady Pirates managed to avoid the thunderous applause waiting to roll forth from the home-side seats. But only briefly; there was no doubt what was inevitably coming next.
Rhodes to Kirstie Hillyer. BOOM.
"I was hoping for it; I wasn't expecting it," the senior middle Hillyer said of getting the final set. "But I was definitely happy when it did, glad we could finish it strong."
"It's everything that we ever want," said Rhodes of the connection. "We want to see that last point hit the floor-doesn't matter who hits it, it just needs to hit the floor."
A Rhodes over-pass kill, a kill by sophomore Emily Bauer, one by soph Maddi Foutz and one by Hillyer helped turn a relatively close Game 1 into a 20-10 Bayfield lead, and a Bauer tip soon sent the contest into Game 2.
Taking a 3-0 lead via a Phelps ace, BHS' advantage rapidly ballooned to 14-1 with Bauer holding serve before PSHS feebly managed a point. Foutz responded with a kill, and the proverbial 'pain train' kept rolling-to 20-6 on a kill by senior Jessie Roukema, and ultimately to its destination on a Rhodes ace and a Hillyer denial of Lady Pirate Brooke Kudelski.
"We knew Pagosa had been working hard. And this was our Senior Night so we just wanted to prove all of our hard work would pay off," said senior Martina Moreno.
"No one took tonight for granted, from the very beginning," said the coach. "We've actually been mentally preparing for Senior Night for a week now-that yes, it's going to be emotional, yes, we're going to be prepared for that, and yes, it's worth fighting for."
Kudelski tooled a Hillyer block beginning Game 3, getting Phelps off serve, but consecutive Hillyer spikes quickly put BHS ahead 3-1, not to be caught despite Pagosa coming as close as 10-7. BHS soon had an 18-8 advantage.
A Roukema kill and a Phelps dink put the guests on the brink at 22-13, and Springs' Connie O'Donnell called one last timeout to see if her team still had a spark. Actually, Pagosa played well, but against #4-ranked Bayfield, they had no fuel to build a fire. Bayfield is now 15-2 this year and 6-0 in league play. The team's two losses have come against 5A volleyball powerhouse schools.
"We're capping a regular season, and it takes another level of mental toughness to really do that and see that through," Foutz stated. "And we.have Centauri Saturday and Alamosa on Tuesday. And Alamosa played incredibly well down here-they were a surprise! They're a strong team; the Alamosa-Pagosa matchup(s) could have gone either way, either night; we do not overlook anybody."