FARMINGTON - Looking for a sneaky spark to re-ignite her team Tuesday on the road, Terene Foutz turned to the same reserve who'd done the job in a vital home win three nights before.
And Bayfield sophomore Kira Riley wa again up to the challenge, coming off the bench against an opponent even more well-rounded than 3A Intermountain League power Centauri on Saturday.
A surprise back-row kill tied Game 4 at 13-13, and Riley immediately followed up with a service ace through the top of the net, gaining the lead for the guests and informing the 5A Panthers they had every intention of forcing the interstate match to go the distance.
"In Game 5 against Centauri," Foutz recalled, "we put Kira in to introduce a serving change-of-pace, a different tempo, and I think she served six straight, as a player they'd not seen earlier in the match! It takes courage to come in late in a match and go straight to the service line, and I trust her to do it."
PVHS refused to get burned by the sudden heat applied to them.
Piedra Vista took an 18-16 lead in Game 4 after consecutive net violations by the Wolverines. The New Mexico team upped the advantage to 21-17 via a demoralizing Angelica Sabol ace through the tape, and never let Bayfield approach nearer than 21-19 on a kill by senior Jannika Pope.
Tayln Miller answered Pope with a kill off a double block, then smashed down a BHS over-pass.
Bayfield, led by Schulz, sophomore Melissa Roberts, junior Tess Phelps and senior setter Tymbree Florian combined in various ways to defend more intensely than in the squads' previous battle.
"They get 'tall' so fast," observed Roberts. "And the middles, they're running a 'zero set,' which we don't run at Bayfield. But I'm definitely adjusting, and I was up for the challenge. I liked it."
"Our block is nebulous sometimes," Foutz quipped, "but when we closed it, it was terminal."
PV sophomore star Kacee Moore put down one last vicious kill to close out a 20-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-21 victory.
"We didn't fold; we did respond and even though we were under serve-receive pressure the team stayed together," said Foutz. "PV has a very solid, experienced ball-control backcourt that enables them to run offense constantly, and we knew that coming into the match. But we were very talkative and eager to score to the end."
And the scoring started early, with Pope blocking and BHS (5-11, 4-4 IML) able to go point-for-point until PV laced a kill through the middle for a 12-10 lead. Neither team would lead by more than two until Roberts downed a kill and senior Rachel Bauer zipped an ace for a 20-16 cushion.
A Phelps kill put Bayfield at game point, 24-18, and the visitors won when PVHS' Isabella Cross sent an attack long and out of bounds.
"I think a lot of it carried over, especially in the first game," Roberts said, alluding to the win over Centauri on Saturday at the triangular held at Bayfield. The win over Centauri came shortly after a heartbreaking 21-25, 25-27, 25-20, 23-25 loss to Montuma-Cortz. BHS came back, en route to a 24-26, 19-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-12 victory.
Up next for the Wolverines will be a trip to Alamosa (21-0, 9-0 IML) on Saturday, Oct. 13, with Senior Night set for Monday, Oct. 15, inside BHS Gymnasium versus Monte Vista.
"I think we're seeing some future stars learn this game and rise quickly," stated Foutz, noting the efforts of Schulz and Roberts against Piedra Vista, as well as Florian's all-around play (including a 15-kill, 17-assist, 7-dig line against Centauri). "We're seeing some senior leadership right now in the backcourt with Rachel - she's constantly talking, a constant backcourt presence - and these young players we have are.earning their confidence on-court."
"I like where we're going at Bayfield."
"They've definitely improved a lot," concurred Piedra Vista's Moore. "We just came in, like, not thinking. But then the second set we realized how good they were, changed our motivation."