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Bayfield ready to apply lessons from Lewis-Palmer Invite

1-3 at meet, BHS resumes league play Tuesday
With teammate Payton Killough (14) providing assistance, Bayfield's Kenasea Byrd (11) blocks Niwot's Grace Demmel (12) during the Lady Wolverines' first match Saturday in Monument at the Lewis-Palmer Invitational.(JoelPriest/Special to the Herald)

MONUMENT – Probably vaguely familiar with the Lewis-Palmer Volleyball Invitational’s prestige from hearing veteran teammates talk, Bayfield varsity reserve Kori Jenkins could hardly believe the impact her initial Game 1 cameo against the edition’s hosts would have as BHS looked to bounce back from a letdown.

Inserted as a serving specialist with the Lady Wolverines leading 8-3, the junior was practically targeted immediately when Lewis-Palmer smashed the rally’s first spike over the net. As yet unaware how motivating any sort of highlight against the Lady Rangers – more or less denied in spring by the COVID-19 pandemic a chance at a fifth consecutive Class 4A State Championship – tends to be, Jenkins dove face-first onto the court and with arms fully extended came up with an incredible dig.

The ball ricocheted well over surprised senior setter Sage Killough, the nearest Bayfield player who could have kept the play alive, but though Lewis-Palmer won the point, Jenkins won serious props from head coach Terene Foutz, whose planned substitution of Jenkins out of the rotation seconds later appeared more an excuse to give her an enthusiastic high-five.

“I think a lot of us talk about it; we actually ‘black out’ when we play, and we’re just like full-energy, let’s-get-this-done,” Jenkins said. “And to get that dig …. I thought about it after, and I’m like, ‘That actually just happened!’”

“I think it’s super-exciting that we get to come here and play teams like that,” she said, “because these are top teams in the state. … And just to get a dig against them was extremely exciting – especially for my first time basically playing full-time.”

Drawing Lewis-Palmer in the meet’s middle crossover phase after falling 25-16, 25-18 to fast-starting 4A No. 4 Windsor – which raced out to a 10-1 lead in Game 1, then a 6-1 start in Game 2 – wrapping up Pool B work, Bayfield wouldn’t let off the gas and went up 1-0 in the match when junior Kenasea Byrd split blockers Ashley Wood and Maya Brown with a kill for a 25-13 win.

“That was exciting when that was happening,” senior Emily Nelson said. “I think it – playing Niwot – really showed us to just go hard at the net, and with our serves.”

Referencing a 25-23, 23-25, 15-11 upset – polished off by an emphatic kill by senior Annie Fusco – of the 4A No. 5 Lady Cougars in BHS’ pool play opener, the Lady Wolverines’ increased pace against Lewis-Palmer was almost too fast; able to battle to a 7-7 tie early in Game 2, Bayfield sputtered enough to fall behind 19-15 and later 23-17 en route to an equalizing 25-18 loss.

Still sensing they could pull off another shocker, BHS managed to knot the tiebreaking Game 3 at 11-11 via a line kill by senior Payton Killough. But Nelson would then power a serve long, and Lewis-Palmer senior Tori Stewart followed up with an ace at the Bayfield senior’s expense. Lewis-Palmer junior Amya Speller then roofed an over-passed serve reception to bring up match point.

A Fusco spike helped bring BHS back to 14-13, but after L-P’s Wade Baxter called timeout Karyssa Gosney served long.

“I know I really wanted that one, but I think we did good,” said Nelson. “I think we were all happy at the end with how we played, but just not with the result.”

Pit against 4A No. 8 Montrose in the seventh-place match, four unforced errors and a block on Fusco helped put the Lady Wolverines down 7-2 in the early goings. And despite closing to as near as two points on nine occasions and one point on three, BHS fell 25-22 when MHS senior Madisen Matoush split Gosney and libero Myrah Abdallah-Boehm with a kill.

And as fate would have it, Bayfield would lead only twice in Game 2. First, a Fusco kill put BHS up 3-2, with a lift infraction on a Montrose set then doubling it to 4-2. Matoush then responded with a scoring ‘punch’ of a shot, and senior Taylor Foster then tied the score at 4-all with a delicate tip.

MHS’ ensuing serve, however, went into the net and Bayfield regained a 5-4 advantage – subsequently negated on the teams’ next exchange via a Matoush put-away … initially dug, however, by Jenkins in similar style to her up against Lewis-Palmer.

“I’m just trying to be a big ‘team’ player,” she said. “Our energy’s kind of up and down, but once our energy comes up we’re a big, big team that’s hard to get around.”

But with fatigue becoming even more difficult an enemy than Montrose, the Lady Wolverines would then fall behind 6-5, and got no closer the rest of the way than 14-12 after a Nelson ace and a MHS attack airmailed long. Byrd downed a kill to give Bayfield hope at 23-16, but after MHS brought up match point with an unclaimed free ball, sophomore Taygan Rocco zipped a hard serve off Abdallah-Boehm which deflected overhead, off a stored basketball goal and away from Fusco’s desperate pursuit.

“I’m sad that it ended the way it did, but I’m glad we got to play,” Nelson said. “It was a lot of fun.”

“That was a good finish for us, to play a good team like Bayfield,” Montrose head coach Shane Forrest said after her team’s 25-22, 25-16 victory. “Both teams were tired; I think we just outlasted Bayfield, really.”

“This is such a great experience for us, to see this level of teams,” she said. “We learned a lot of lessons today … playing against faster offenses, bigger hitters … and we’ll take that with us when we play Fruita, Durango and the other teams in our league.”

Expect BHS (5-5, 1-0 Intermountain), this week the CHSAANow.com Class 3A rankings’ top ‘Others Receiving Votes’ team, to do likewise as they resume IML play Tuesday at Pagosa Springs.

Winners of the Sept. 3-4 Glenwood Springs Invitational, PSHS rose two spots to No. 7 after improving to 8-0 overall and 2-0 in league following Saturday’s 25-18, 25-12, 22-25, 25-20 win at defending IML champs Montezuma-Cortez (4-2, 0-2).

“Three top-10-ranked 4A teams…that’s why we go. I’m willing to take a loss and, you know, we built the schedule for a reason,” Foutz had said prior to the tournament. “They need to hold under pressure and…hopefully we’ll be a better team for it.”

“Oh, we’re fired up,” said Jenkins. “We were talking in the locker room…we just want to put balls down, get balls up. And our serve-receive was good today; we want to keep that going.”

Bayfield ended up beating Pagosa Springs on Tuesday 3-1. Pagosa won the first game 25-23, but BHS rallied to take the next three: 25-11, 25-11 and 25-21.