CLOUDCROFT – No matter how things turn out for the Mescalero volleyball team this season, no one can say their matches aren’t exciting.
That excitement grew Saturday, when the Lady Chiefs finished off a 10-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-17 win over Capitan in the third place game of the Mountain Top Tournament.
It was the first ever trophy from any tournament for the Lady Chiefs in volleyball.
“It’s a new year and we decided to get after it, to come together as a team,” said Mescalero senior Alarah Kirgan. “It’s more fun for us that way.”
“It feels so great and I’m happy,” said fellow senior Maisie Wabunsie. “I’m so proud that we placed third and made history.”
Mescalero (4-4) reached the third place match after winning every pool play match and sweeping District 3-2A foe Cloudcroft in the first round.
They then dropped a four-game set to Animas, although every game was hotly contested.
That included the Lady Chiefs’ 30-28 victory in game three when they were on the verge of being swept.
“Animas wanted that match pretty bad. They were digging a lot of balls,” said Mescalero coach Axel Hernandez. “We were hitting the ball, and they were there picking them up.”
“But the girls are believing in their training and believing in themselves,” he added. “It can only get better from here.”
While Mescalero came into the third place match on a roll, they certainly didn’t play like it in the first game against Capitan.
The Lady Tigers (2-5) won the first frame 25-10, something that’s been typical of Mescalero’s play this season.
“I keep telling friends that if I’m able to find out how to get them started right away and put that in a bottle and sell it, I’d make a lot of money,” Hernandez said. “
Mescalero woke up to start the second game, taking a 10-4 lead. But the Lady Tigers eventually caught up with a 5-0 run with Aspen Caughron at the serve.
After that, the Lady Chiefs were never more than three points until a Capitan hitting error finally gave Mescalero the win.
That’s pretty much how the next two games went as well, although the Lady Tigers started to fall apart at the very end.
“A million excuses at the end of the day, but the bottom line is they have to stay mentally with it,” said Capitan coach Kimberly Stone. “They can’t get down on themselves because they made a few mistakes.”
Capitan opened bracket play with a four game win over Lordsburg, again in close fashion. The Lady Mavericks staved off a sweep with a 27-25 win in game three.
But the Lady Tigers prevailed, giving them a shot against District 4-3A opponent and statewide power Eunice.
The Lady Cardinals won with a sweep, but Capitan coach Kimberly Stone said she was excited her team got a shot against Eunice in the semifinal.
“They were in the winner’s bracket, and I’m proud of them for that,” Stone said.
Tournament time isn’t over for Capitan, as they’ll host the Capitan Classic this weekend.