. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Bulldog volleyball team needed just one more win to make it unblemished through the first round of District 4-AAAAA play Tuesday at Ground Zero in Roswell. And through two games, it looked as though they were well on their way to it.

Artesia came out strong and took a 2-0 lead over the Goddard Rockets, 25-22 and 25-15, putting them one away from the sweep. But unfortunately, the ‘Dogs stumbled slightly in what would have been a blowout victory in the second set. That was all it took to reignite the Rockets.

“We had a good, strong lead in that second game and we kind of let them go on a run of five or six points before we closed it out,” head coach Alan Williams said Tuesday. “That just fed their momentum and confidence, and they stormed back.”

Goddard went on to stun Artesia in three straight sets, 25-21, 25-14 and 15-6, to steal the five-game win on their home court. The frustrating loss evens the Bulldogs (13-4) and Rockets (8-9) at 2-1 in district play heading into the second round.

“They took a big lead early in Game Three and Game Four was the same way,” said Williams. “We could just never get our momentum back, and in Game Five, they pulled away and won. We needed to finish stronger in Game Two and come out stronger in Game Three, but it just didn’t happen.

“But the girls battled hard. It wasn’t a lack of effort. They just lost some confidence, so we’ll work on getting that back. We have to turn around and get ready for Roswell on Thursday, so we don’t have time to lick our wounds. We have to get ready to fight again.”

Mattie McCombs led the ‘Dogs offensively Tuesday with 11 kills, followed by Stacia Martinez and Dezaray Boyce with nine apiece. Kyrah Gonzales logged 23 assists and four aces, and defensively, Alexa Riggs had 28 digs and Martinez 20.

Artesia will host Roswell High following a 5:30 p.m. JV game Thursday at Bulldog Pit. The Bulldogs edged the Coyotes in five (18-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 15-13) Oct. 11 on the road and will be looking for a less stressful victory this time around.

“We really played well in the first two games last night,” Williams said. “Sometimes you get yourself in a rut and you can’t get out, but we’ll take a little break tomorrow and come back for Thursday. We’re going to work on doing a better job of serve-receive and just rally together as a team and come back to fight another day.”