Not only did Bayfield’s on-court play at the state volleyball championships open eyes, particularly its five-game victory over defending champion Eaton, the Wolverines’ supporters also made the team hard to miss.
Far and away bettering any other squad’s rooters filling the Broadmoor World Arena, Bayfield supporters brought a vibrant poster that illuminated multiple players’ names with strands of Christmas lights and reduced a casual observer’s need for a roster almost to zero.
“We love the support and love everybody coming out and cheering. It’s just really fun to fill the gym with that positive atmosphere and loud energy,” senior Sage Killough had said earlier in the season. “The community in Bayfield’s great.”
“We love our sponsors,” said her senior sister, Payton Killough. “They give us so many opportunities, and it’s great for us.”
Great enough to help the Lady Wolverines lead the Intermountain League with a 7-1 record and 20-10 overall record for fall 2021, which ended with several postseason all-IML honors.
Named Colorado’s MaxPreps/AVCA National player of the week Oct. 11-17 with a 75-kill, 39-dig performance in home matches versus Alamosa, Pagosa Springs and Centauri, senior Annie Fusco was named first team all-league. Fusco led the IML in kills, and Class 3A with 475 kills. She also earned first team all-3A honors, with 263 digs and served a team-high 47 aces.
“Everything’s back to normal. We’d been working hard all summer, and it was surreal to be back in game action,” Fusco said during the season.
Fellow senior outside hitter Emily Nelson received first team all-IML honors and honorable mention all-3A. Nelson joined the top five in kills (196) and digs (306). After two years as BHS’ starting libero, Nelson became an all-around asset with 41 service aces, placing her in the top 10.
Head coach Terene Foutz, who kicked off the season by donating a state-of-the-art videoboard/scorer’s table for the BHS Gymnasium, was named the Intermountain League’s coach of the year. Foutz shared the honor with Centauri’s first-year skipper Alexis “Ali” Miller, a former Adams State University assistant, who directed the Falcons to a 4-3 league record and 14-10 overall finish after replacing Bayfield alumna Candace Shaw. Because of COVID-19 concerns, Centauri and Montezuma-Cortez could not play their second head-to-head match.
IML player of the year went to M-CHS senior Avery Wright, who joined Fusco and Centauri’s Hennessy Mortensen as coaches’ selections after powering the Panthers to a 15-7 overall record and a 13-2 mark in non-league action.
“We have such hard teams … and I’m just proud to be part of this league,” Wright said earlier in the season. “I think a lot of people forget about us because we’re not in the big Denver area, so when we come, they’re like, ‘Oh there’s actually good volleyball in the Southwest!’ It’s good to show them that – I’m so proud of the Intermountain.”
Sage Killough was a second team All-IML choice, despite leading the league and ranking second in 3A with 851 assists.
Junior middle Kenasea Byrd led the Intermountain with a .320 hitting percentage (140 kills in 322 attempts, with only 37 errors), and earned second team all-IML as BHS’ top blocker. Byrd topped in the IML with 70 total denials –15 solo and 55 assisted.
Junior libero Myrah Abdallah-Boehm received honorable mention all-League after racking up an IML-leading 399 digs. She served as an instrumental passer, consistently placing Bayfield in position to strike at the net.
IML first team: Wright, Montezuma-Cortez; Fusco, Bayfield; Mortensen, Centauri; Malia Tuioti-Mariner, Alamosa; Marissa Johnson, Centauri; Nelson, BHS; Charlie Higham, Alamosa.
Second team: Avery Mobbley, Alamosa; Morgan Ortega, Alamosa; Sage Killough, Bayfield; Kenasea Byrd, Bayfield; Abbey Smith, Centauri; Kailyn Polzin, Centauri; Priscilla Howard, Pagosa Springs.
Honorable mention: Dez Boeckman, M-CHS; Myrah Abdallah-Boehm, BHS; Keira Torrez, Pagosa Springs.