Forget the ten o’clock start time; two players in particular were ready for action when most people were either eating breakfast, or in a likely number of cases, even waking up at all.
So it was only fitting that Ignacio’s Alex Forsythe and Dolores’ Beth Brown – transfers to their new schools from, respectively, 3A Bayfield and 4A Montezuma-Cortez – would face each other’s team to get the Sept. 27 San Juan Basin League volleyball triangular – Nucla also attended – underway.
“Oh goodness, it was tough! It was really hard,” Forsythe said, of the CHSAA-mandated wait before becoming varsity-eligible. “But I took it one game at a time and now I’m here, just super-happy!”
Brown agreed with Forsthye about the long wait of becoming varsity eligible.
“But today it just came together really easily, and it was nice; everything flowed really well with everybody.”
It certainly did for the Lady Bears in the day’s opening game – a 25-11 handling of the Volleycats in which Forsythe’s first successful jump-serve only narrowed the deficit to 12-6 – and it unquestionably did for NHS in the assembly’s eleventh and closing clash, as IHS fell to each squad in three.
Losing to the Lady Mustangs, who’d just let a tight five-gamer [28-26, 24-26, 16-25, 25-23, 14-16] go to DHS (6-5, 2-4 SJBL), was particularly hard for the Cats to take in that Nucla seemed to have the coldest answers available to any positives Ignacio was able to achieve.
Mirroring the game one loss to Dolores, IHS went down 0-1 to NHS 25-10. Ignacio senior Amya Bison, coming out of a Thad Cano timeout, managed an uplifting rejection of a Lady Mustang spike to keep the Cats within ten points, but Nucla’s Carlie Wytulka silenced the home crowd with consecutive kills and Kenzee Irish landed an ace for good measure.
“We practice serving a lot, and serving to different areas of the court … short, long serves,” NHS head coach Debbie Wytulka said. “So that is something they take pride in, being able to serve tough.”
Forsythe later dropped in two scoring serves and freshman Avionne Gomez downed a kill, making the score 20-10, but Nucla middle Erin Staats mashed a kill to halt Ignacio’s approach.
Re-conjuring, in a 25-22 game two loss, the type of intensity they’d shown in a 25-23 Game 3 loss to DHS, IHS went up 2-zip on the Lady Mustangs in Game 3 before a seven-point Staats stay on serve opened a 14-3 lead – en route to a resounding 25-7 win – for NHS (4-4, 4-4).
Making the score 22-6, Wytulka’s perfect smash seconds after Ignacio junior libero Chrystianne Valdez’s amazing blind-side save somehow reversed the ball back to the enemy was likely the definitive moment for the Cats (1-10, 1-5) – looking to avenge a 25-17 x3 loss at Telluride on the 25th.
“Nucla, they’re a great team. And so is Dolores – it was definitely tough,” said Forsythe, possibly the lone local player not exiting Ignacio Middle School Gymnasium visibly saddened.
“We’re running, like, a modified 6-2. So the setter comes from back-row, and then in the front row our setter’s our outside,” she said, of her dual role with Shoshone Thompson. “And it’s definitely been a hard process, getting to know it and learning it. But we are doing great for, like, me coming in and just now playing with the [varsity]. We’ll just take it one game at a time and it’ll definitely get better.”
Statistics had not been finalized by the Drum’s deadline. Neither had results from Ignacio’s Oct. 2 trip out to La Jara to face non-league 3A Centauri. IHS resumes SJBL work on Oct. 4 at Ridgway, and follows that with trips to Dove Creek onTuesday, Oct. 7, and Mancos on the Friday, Oct. 10.