MONUMENT - Likely needing at least three wins, if not four in their four guaranteed matches to sneak into the postseason among 36 teams each advancing to one of 12 regionals, the Bayfield Wolverines knew they had their work cut out for them at the Oct. 27 Palmer Ridge Invitational.
Ultimately, they were unsuccessful.
Sitting a hopeful 39th in CHSAA's RPI standings but initially included in Pool A at Palmer Ridge with Class 4A's #8-ranked Pine River and 4A Colorado Springs Coronado, BHS found themselves playing solely for each other after dropping each best-of-three two games to none.
"Whether we qualify for the postseason or not, this has been a very strong journey this season. The three months have been very good, and I think it culminates in how we respond to good teams," head coach Terene Foutz had said earlier in the week. "I like how we're learning to do that."
And Wolverine Pride would indeed be fully displayed before the day was done.
Battling in the tournament's third-tier Bronze Bracket, Bayfield went out threatening to upset 4A Montrose before falling 26-24, 24-26, 22-25 - finalizing their 2018 campaign at 7-16 overall. And not returning empty-handed to the Pine River Valley, the Wolverines logged one win at the one-day event, at which they were the only 3A (or smaller) squad present.
That came in the Bronze semifinals, where they rallied past 5A Broomfield 25-23, 21-25, 25-22, with sophomore Macee Schultz stuff-blocking Eagle freshman Sophie Buschmann on match point and ensuring BHS would place no lower than tenth at the 12-team assembly.
Having been able to erase a 17-9 deficit in Game 2 before Broomfield managed to swipe victory and even the match at a game apiece, Bayfield then climbed out of a deeper 18-8 hole in Game 3.
Helped by senior Rachel Bauer's serving and the blocking of senior Tymbree Florian and sophomore Melissa Roberts, BHS pressed the issue and during the comeback the Eagles gifted them at least six points via errors-including a failed free-ball giveaway which finally tied the score at 19-19.
Broomfield sophomore Nikki Gorman struck back with a kill, but a Broomfield net violation on the next exchange re-tied the game at 20, and when Gorman then sent a spike long, Bayfield had their first lead. Broomfield sophomore Courtney Wristen then netted a swing, putting Bayfield up 22-20, and Florian nailed a perfect cross-court, deep-corner spike for a three-point advantage.
Eagle coach Bob Knox then called timeout, but defeat became imminent after his team committed another net violation, giving the elated Wolverines their first match-point opportunity.
"Bayfield played very strong today," Foutz said afterwards. "It was a great tournament, and we played stronger as the event unfolded, and we came together competitively. Tymbree...was a constant offensive threat and distributed the ball very well. Jannika Pope and.Bauer played great today and are incredible leaders and mentors to our younger players."
"Lana McKee was amazing at the libero position all tournament long."
Solid on both sides of the strings from start to finish, Broomfield junior Vicki Fankell booked a double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs, but became comparatively easier to defend after senior Rylee Russin wracked her right ankle in Game 2 and was lost for the remainder.
Judging by the Bayfield players' post-Broomfield celebration and a good many hugs given by Foutz, it was clear the number which most mattered was "one." One last "W."
Broomfield went on to down 4A Pueblo South 25-18, 25-18 to save 11th place and improve to 11-12 overall, while Colorado Springs Discovery Canyon-ranked second in 4A going in-swept 5A Arvada Ralston Valley 25-19, 25-14 in the Gold Bracket finale to end the day a first-place 4-0 and improve to 21-2.
2018 PALMER RIDGE INVITATIONAL FINAL STANDINGS: 1.4A Colorado Springs Discovery Canyon (21-2 overall), 2.5A Arvada Ralston Valley (14-9), 3.4A Monument Palmer Ridge (16-7), 4.5A CS Doherty (15-8), 5.4A Longmont Silver Creek (15-8), 6.4A CS Air Academy (13-10), 7.4A CS Coronado (10-13), 8.4A Denver Mullen (12-11), 9.4A Montrose (15-8), 10.3A BAYFIELD (7-16), 11.5A Broomfield (11-12), 12.4A Pueblo South (7-16).
BRACKET-PLAY FINAL RESULTS: Gold 1st-place-Discovery Canyon 25-19, 25-14 over Ralston Valley; 3rd-place-Palmer Ridge 25-15, 25-16 over Doherty. Silver 1st-place-Silver Creek 25-14, 25-16 over Air Academy; 3rd-place-Coronado 25-21, 25-17 over Mullen. Bronze 1st-place-Montrose 24-26, 26-24, 25-22 over BAYFIELD; 3rd-place-Broomfield 25-18, 25-18 over Pueblo South.