BHS aces Round One

Wolverines’ volleyball opens with a 3-set W

Bayfield’s still got it from the service line.

The Bayfield High School volleyball team picked up where it left off after finishing fourth at last year’s Class 3A state tournament, sweeping San Juan High School of Blanding, Utah, 3-0 – 25-15, 25-23, 25-21 – on Saturday in Bayfield.

The Wolverines (1-0) got off to a quick start from the service line, with five of their first eight points coming via the ace – two from Kirstie Hillyer and two more from Suzie Rhodes. BHS built a lead as big as 11 before wrapping up the 25-15 win.

“They weren’t able to do anything because their passing was back at the end line,” BHS head coach Kelley Rifilato said. “So their offense was never really able to get started.”

Bayfield had 13 aces against just five service errors, and many of the serves that weren’t aces caused the Broncos’ offense plenty of consternation, forcing multiple free balls that BHS used to rack up points.

“Serving is kind of our thing. We practice that all the time. We’re kind of known for that,” said Jen Phelps, daughter of Nancy and Trent Phelps.

The Wolverines hiccuped a bit in the second set against Utah’s Class 2A runner-up from a year ago. Errors helped San Juan build a lead as big as 13-7 before the Wolverines went on a 14-3 run to regain the lead at 21-16. They held off a late Broncos rally to take the set, then got right again from the service line and readjusted to the high sets of San Juan to wrap up the victory.

“We just pushed. We moved the ball around, and we could pass, and of course our serving helps a lot, too,” Phelps said of the second-set rally.

Phelps mixed and matched a bit, playing both the outside and middle with Kayla J. McCoy limited to a few minutes in the third game with an ankle injury. She racked up 10 kills for Bayfield.

Phelps said she’s comfortable playing wherever she’s needed on the floor.

“I love it. It keeps me on my toes, and it keeps everybody else on their toes when we move around our lineup,” she said.

Hillyer, a sophomore, finished with 11 kills on 16 attempts to lead Bayfield, and Rifilato said she was pleased not only with the way the lanky player handled herself offensively, but also at the service line, where she was the first server up for Bayfield for the first time in her high school career.

“Once (Hillyer) gets that thing down, man, the angle that it comes ... makes it very tough to play,” Rifilato said of her tall sophomore.

Rhodes and Lindsey Reinmuth combined to turn in a strong performance at setter, settling things down after some shaky passing allowed San Juan to build the lead in the second set.

Rhodes finished with four aces.

“That’s my job, to help them not to have to overthink, because they’re still working on some basic fundamental skills, but I was pleased with both of them setting,” Rifilato said. “They both did a great job, and they’ve both been coming along awesome.”

Bayfield, the perennial Intermountain League contender, will return to the court at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when the Southwestern League’s Class 4A Montezuma-Cortez Panthers come to town.

rowens@durangoherald.com