Both Ignacio and Mancos will be traveling this weekend to compete at the West Grand Invitational.
The two San Juan Basin League squads, however, aren’t guaranteed to face each other.
For fans, that’s a good thing; a rematch potentially the caliber of Tuesday’s showdown really shouldn’t be held more than 300 miles away.
“Yeah,” agreed MHS sophomore setter Aysia Mathews, following the Jays’ nerve-testing 25-18, 25-22, 25-23 sweep on the road. “It’ll be good to play some teams that … especially aren’t in our league. I think it’ll be good to see some bigger schools and hopefully just win it.”
“We always are hyped to go and play, and always try to play to our potential because that’s super important to us,” sophomore Claire Goodwin said. “I feel we’ll go into it knowing, like, we’re going to kick some butt.”
Both bunches took their best shots inside IHS Gymnasium at doing just that during a clash worth every buck of admission price on Tuesday. It ultimately came down to a tense Game 3. Having let Game 2 slip away after leading 22-21 – an advantage stemming from senior middle Solymar Cosio’s crowd-rocking rejection of Mancos senior Teya Yeomans, putting the home team up 15-14 – Ignacio initially staved off match point, served up by Mathews, when senior Kacey Brown made an incredible solo block on much-taller MHS senior Haylie Higgins.
Still holding a 24-23 lead, however, Mancos closed out the contest with a defensive denial at the net by freshman Aubree Wyatt – improving the Jays’ overall record to 3-0, and 2-0 in combined 2A/1A SJBL play, and 1-0 in 2A SJBL work.
Having seen an early 6-1 lead in Game 3 disappear at 12-all, and the match thus revert to its seesaw style seen develop in Game 2, IHS slipped to 2-1 (0-1 SJBL).
Ignacio is scheduled to play Fairplay-based 2A South Park, 2A Cedaredge and Black Hawk-based 2A Gilpin County at West Grand.
An encounter with Mancos, however, could – depending on how IHS and MHS fare in their first three matches – materialize in final-round play.
“It’s definitely built up our confidence, and kind of proved to us that we could beat good teams,” Mathews said, alluding to not only the win at Ignacio, but also a five-game conquest of 1A SJBL force Dove Creek. “We just have to have grit; the team this year’s amazing, all the girls want to win.”
“We spent a lot of time in the gym … this summer, and everything we’ve been working on has been starting to show.”
The Jays were slated to face West Grand, Peyton and Sanford prior to the placing phase.
“Just play our game and don’t play down, you know?” Goodwin said. “We have so much more potential; we’re still finding it and figuring it out.”
Hosting interstate nemesis Piedra Vista on Tuesday, Bayfield broke into the win column for the first time this fall with a 20-25, 25-16, 25-17, 27-25 victory.
BHS improved to 1-3 overall (0-0 3A Intermountain); the Panthers dropped to 0-1 (0-0 NMAA Dist. 2-5A). Stats were unavailable at press time.
After starting its season with four home games, Bayfield was set to travel to Blanding, Utah, on Thursday to face San Juan (4-3 overall).