CORTEZ – Coming off a pair of tough league matches, Montezuma-Cortez High School learned a lot about their resiliency. In a pair of Homecoming Week matches, the Panthers rebounded in style, cruising past Kirtland Central 3-0 and Bloomfield 3-1.
After sweeping through the 3A Intermountain League season, the Panthers found that this year’s path to postseason play would take a different route, as M-CHS looked to regain its early season form after losses to Bayfield and Pagosa Springs.
In front of a large, fiery crowd, the Panthers (6-2, 0-2 3A IML) lighted up the scoreboard Thursday in the opening set against Kirtland Central and set the tone for the match. Senior libero Cheyenne Castillo-Calvillo fired across an ace for the Panthers for an 11-5 edge.
Then, after the Broncos crept back within four, the Panthers posted a decisive run, punctuated by a trio of kills by senior Avery Wright to build a 17-10 lead. From there, the Panthers kept the visitors at arm’s length and posted a 25-20 win in the opening frame.
Senior setter Adezdiin Boeckman headlined a strong second set for the orange-and-black, ranging from sideline to sideline to provide her hitters with premium opportunities to punish the Broncos. Her teammates obliged, as seniors Sariah Robinson and Elise Galbraith controlled the net in a 25-18 second set.
“We really picked up the energy,” said Boeckman, “and put some teammates in different positions to make plays.”
Junior Ashlyn Hall made the most of her rotations on the court, proving to be a menace in the service game. Her knuckling serves gave the Broncos fits all evening, allowing the Panthers to post several large runs. With a sweep in sight, the Panthers made another decisive run in the third set, going on a 10-5 spurt midway through the set, including kills from Wright, Robinson and Boeckman.
With a 25-20 victory in the third set, the Panthers passed their Homecoming Week exams and sent head coach Caroline Glover’s squad back to winning ways, as they prepare for a return to league action next week.
Some adjustments to the rotations keyed the Panthers victory, according to Glover. “We made some tweaks to the lineup, and the girls were able to make the adjustments to some of the new things that we’ve been trying.”
Boeckman’s constant motor helped keep plays alive all evening, allowing the Panthers to cash in on second and third opportunities in attack.
“She runs our offense,” said Glover of her senior setter, “and more importantly, keeps everyone levelheaded and focused.”
“Every practice we play together, we get better.” said Boeckman. “We communicate with each other both on and off the court and share the information that’s going to help give everyone a chance to make the right play.”
Earlier in the week, M-CHS overcame a slow start against Bloomfield, New Mexico, blitzing the Bobcats in the final two sets to win the match 23-25, 25-21, 25-10, 25-9.
The Panthers wrap up their six-match home stand against Alamosa and Centauri, on Sept. 24 and 25, respectively. Friday’s match with the Mean Moose is slated for 6 p.m., with the Falcons visiting the following day for a 12:30 p.m. opening serve.