Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Magdalena battles, falls short in state quarterfinals

By John Severance

RIO RANCHO – The Magdalena girls volleyball team did not wilt under the bright lights or on the big stage of the New Mexico State Championships Nov. 13.
The Lady Steers, though, by virtue of their 1-5 showing in pool play the day before, were matched up against the defending Class A state champion Fort Sumner in a state quarterfinal matchup.
After falling 25-13 in the first game, Magdalena played Fort Sumner tough and had some chances but it still fell 25-20 and 25-21.
“We’ve got a lot of young girls who are playing for the first time at state,” Magdalena coach Liz Olney said. “We showed we could play against the defending state champions and it was nice to see them fight until the end.”
On the day before, though, Magdalena struggled, going 1-5 in its pool. As a result, the Lady Steers finished fourth in Pool B and they had to match up against the top team in Pool A.
“We didn’t perform like we should have,” Olney said. “Nerves hurt us a little bit. We didn’t fight. We got down and we continued to play that way.”
But Friday the 13th was another day.
And Magdalena came to play.
The Lady Steers led 9-8 in the first game after a Fort Sumner miscue.
Fort Sumner got the serve back and Justyne McMath made Magdalena pay as she helped reel off 10 straight points for Fort Sumner and a 19-9 lead.
“We had two of our best passers in the back row and it was a perfect situation for us,” Olney said.
But they had a hard time dealing with McMath’s serve as Fort Sumner went on to a 25-13 victory.
In Game 2, Magdalena trailed 17-9 but rallied to get within 24-20. Leading the charge for Magdalena was senior Nicole Hardy, who battled the flu all week.
“We finally pulled it together yesterday in the last two games of pool play,” Hardy said. “I thought we did really good and I am proud of my teammates.”
In Game 3, Magdalena did its best to extend Fort Sumner to another game. A kill by Hardy and a serve by Simone Armijo got the Lady Steers to within 23-21. Fort Sumner made 24-21 and Olney called timeout.
“I told them to keep fighting and anything could happen,” Olney said.
Fort Sumner, though, clinched the match with a kill to advance. Fort Sumner made it to the state finals before losing to Tatum.
“I had picked Tatum to win it after we played them in pool play,” Olney said.
Magdalena finished with five kills and 32 digs.
“We definitely played some defense,” Olney said. “I was pleased that we were able to hang with them and compete against them.”

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