HONDO – In their opening game against Hondo, Sept. 13, it didn’t look like Mescalero’s volleyball team wanted to be here.
In fact, after falling 25-19 – including a six-point streak to break a 19-all tie at the very end – Mescalero coach Axel Hernandez asked the Lady Chiefs if they would rather go home.
After that, Mescalero responded to win the next two games, but still fell in five, 25-19, 11-25, 19-25, 25-18, 15-13.
“It was hard to watch that first set, but it was just a slow start,” Hernandez said. “We just need to learn how to start right away, and not wait for the other team to start the game for us. We have to go out there and play our game.”
Hondo (6-3) lost its focus in game two and three – particularly a disastrous game two in which the Lady Chiefs (2-3) surged ahead to 16-4.
The score in the end would have been even more lopsided if Mescalero hadn’t started trading service points with the Lady Eagles.
Hondo came back to life a bit in the third game and were able to turn things completely around by game four, going well ahead early before Mescalero made it competitive near the end.
“They started scoring and we were getting our heads down,” said sophomore Nina Herrera. “Once we start cheering and scoring, we just go up from there.”
Then came game five, and either team could have got the victory. They traded leads numerous times before it looked as though the Lady Chiefs might eke out the victory, going up 13-12 following a long volley.
But Hondo was able to get the serve back and scored three straight points to earn the win.
“That’s why I hate to go to the fifth game, the fifth game can go any way,” Hernandez said. “But I think the girls played hard and gave it their all.”
The final, decisive point came on a dink by Hondo junior Joyce Ann Cooper.
“I was in the front row, waiting to block it, waiting for a big hit from Lauryn to hit it,” said Cooper, referring to Mescalero hitter Lauryn Yuzos. “But then the ball came too close to the net, and I was waiting for the ball to get slammed into our faces.
“I tried to reach up there to tip it over, because that was my natural instinct,” she added. “I thought she (Yuzos) was going to contest me on that, and she didn’t. I was very surprised by that.”
It didn’t help that Mescalero was without Katelyn Yuzos due to NMAA rules, but Hondo was also without hitter Fallon Velasquez.
“These girls were fired up and they knew what they needed to do,” said Hondo coach Denise Montoya. “I left it in their hands. They wanted to win and they did what they had to win.”
Hondo’s win comes days after a sweep of San Jon on the road, and Montoya is happy to see her team’s fortunes starting to turn.
“I feel that win over San Jon was a confidence booster for us,” Montoya said. “It did a lot for our morale.”
The Lady Eagles don’t have another game until next week, when they travel to Mescalero, Sept. 21, for the rematch. The Lady Chiefs, meanwhile, will be at the Cloudcroft Mountaintop Tournament starting Sept. 16.