NM prep volleyball: Thoreau opens District 1-3A with win over Bloomfield

By Alastair Lee Bitsoi
Navajo Times

THOREAU, N.M. , October 11, 2012

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(Times photo – Paul Natonabah)

TOP: Thoreau's Briannalynn Begay (6) returns a Bloomfield hit during the third game of the District 1-3A season opener for both schools at Thoreau High on Oct. 9. The Lady Hawks defeated the Lady Bobcats, 3-2.

BOTTOM:Bloomfield's Chelsey Runyon (23) scores a point over Thoreau's Tristine Wilber (1) in the first set at Thoreau High on Oct. 9. Bloomfield lost, 3-2.

F inesse playmaking, strong serving and defensive coverage helped the Thoreau Lady Hawks win their District 1-3A opener against the Bloomfield Lady Wildcats on Tuesday night.

Led by middle hitter Tristine Wilber?s 12 kills, 2 aces and solo block, Thoreau defeated Bloomfield in five close sets. The set scores were 25-17, 15-25, 25-20, 21-25, 15-12.

?We had to cover,? Wilber said about the necessary adjustments the Lady Hawks made to fend off the stubborn Bobcats. ?Our blocking was sort of off and we started off lazy. At the end, we pulled through.?

In the first set, the Lady Hawks started off quick, taking an early 7-3 lead. Setter Natasha Emerson, whose five kills came from setting the ball out into the open court, and three of Wilber?s kills contributed to Thoreau?s 7-3 lead.

Thoreau maintained their early momentum and ended the set with consecutive aces by Sharell Abad and a tip kill by Wilber for a 25-17 win.

Unlike the first, the second set was more about the Lady Bobcats. With the game tied at 13-all, Bloomfield went on a 5-0 run for an 18-13 lead.

A kill and block by Shania Gallegos and a kill by Michelle Miramontes, who had 11 kills on the night, were plays that sucked the momentum from Thoreau.

Three service points, including two aces, by Bloomfield?s Chelsey Runyon and a tip kill by Trinity Mayo ended the second set at 25-15.

Mental errors in the third cost Bloomfield the set, as Thoreau took an early 5-0 lead. The Lady Hawks later built that lead to 19-14, before winning the third set, 25-20.

In the fourth, Bloomfield fed off the double-block of Gallegos and Runyon on Thoreau?s Amberlynn Begay. Following that play, Bobcats reeled off an 8-4 run.

Down 19-17, Bloomfield went on another run, this time a 5-1 run. Runyon, who led Bloomfield with 14 kills, dominated the net with a variety of kills, including roll shots and tips, to put her team up 23-20.

A service ace by Kallan Pablo and kill by Runyon secured Bloomfield the 25-21 win.

Although neutralized in sets 2, 3 and 4, Wilber came alive in the fifth. She had a crucial kill at 3-2 and served three straight points, including an ace that put her team in front at 6-2.

Following a Bloomfield timeout, both teams matched each other point-for point until consecutive kills by Thoreau?s Emerson and Begay and a hitting error by Bloomfield made the score 11-9.

Three unforced errors by the Lady Bobcats ended the set and match at 15-12.

Thoreau head coach Ethan Siedschlag said minimizing the error count and improved defensive coverage were the keys to his team?s win.

?Definitely cutting down on our errors has helped a lot,? he said. ?We?re focusing on that as well as defense and it?s starting to show.?

Even though her team has big hitters in Mayo, Miramontes, Pablo and Runyon, Bloomfield head coach Tamie Bekes said her team could not find any seams or holes in the Lady Hawks? defense.

?They covered a lot,? Bekes said about the Thoreau. ?The hits that we gave them they were there. I was like, ?Oh my goodness!? We have girls that can hit but they had someone always picking it up.?

According to the website MaxPreps.com, the Lady Hawks improve to an overall record of 7-6. Their record to date also includes a second place finish at the Bloomfield Invite and 4th place finish at the Belen Tournament, both tournaments were held last month in September.

If the close game between the Lady Hawks and Lady Bobcats indicates anything, it?s that the four-team District 1-3A race could become possibly long-jammed. Besides Thoreau and Bloomfield, the district also includes Shiprock and Wingate.

Asked if her team could win the district, Wilber responded, saying, ?We can measure up to them. We can beat them.?

Thoreau plays Wingate today in a crucial district match.

?We?ll be preparing for them,? Siedschlag said about Wingate. ?Hopefully, we can start out at 2-0.?

Thoreau?s high hopes this district season could be said of the Lady Bobcats, whose mental errors negated their momentum during critical junctures in their match on Tuesday.

?Those things are fixable,? Bekes added. ?We still need to work on our passes, but I look good things to be happening.?

Bloomfield plays Shiprock, who is the league favorite, today.

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