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In their first two tournaments of the season, the Bulldog volleyball team was able to get over a hurdle that had tripped them up in the past: pool play.

As such, they earned spots in the championship brackets of both the Las Cruces Sweet 16 and Zia Classic in Roswell, taking third in the former and taking it all in the latter.

But the mini-gamut that is the pool round came back to haunt the Artesia girls again Friday at the Rio Rancho VolleyBash, and their doldrums would continue into the first round of the Silver Bracket as they fell in three to Hope Christian.

That dropped them into the seventh-place game, where they found themselves in a rematch of the Zia Classic title tilt against Goddard.

There, the ‘Dogs were able to regroup, refocus, and come out of the weekend with a win, topping the Rockets 3-0, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-16.

“It seems like we can’t go to a tournament without playing Goddard or Roswell,” head coach Alan Williams laughed Saturday from Clines Corners. “But we played really well in that one.
“We had some good games this weekend, but then we had some bad ones, so it was kind of a rollercoaster ride. We just have to start making sure we’re doing the good things more consistently.”

Artesia got off to a solid start in Friday’s pool play, winning their first three matches 2-0 against Albuquerque Academy, Roswell High and Farmington.

“Farmington was supposed to be one of the favorites in the tournament, so we were feeling pretty good about ourselves when we beat them,” Williams said. “Then we took a lunch break, came back, and it kind of went downhill.”

The Bulldogs fell 0-2 to both Rio Rancho and St. Pius in their final pool bouts.

“In both of those games, we had five or six big errors early in games that only played to 21, so that just didn’t give us a chance to score points,” said Williams. “We were missing our serves, and that really hurt us.”

Saturday morning saw Artesia paired up with Hope Christian, and the ‘Dogs were unfortunately on their heels from the onset.

“I don’t know what team showed up, but it wasn’t our usual team,” Williams said. “We tend to pass the ball well and play good defense while struggling sometimes with our serving, and this morning, we couldn’t pass a ball, we were struggling to dig, and we didn’t miss a serve.

“They ended up beating us in three, and it was not a good showing for us. We just weren’t ourselves, and it was probably the worst game we’ve had this year.”

Following the 18-25, 21-25, 15-25 loss, however, the Bulldogs pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to finish out the tourney with a win. Their 1-1 showing moves them to 10-2 on the season.

Dezaray Boyce led Artesia in kills on the weekend with 19, Sadie Ramirez logged 34 digs, Kyrah Gonales delivered 28 assists, and Malori McSpadden had seven blocks.

The ‘Dogs will now prepare to continue their “we’ve got to stop meeting like this” series with Roswell’s two public high schools as they head to the Alien City Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. bout against the Coyotes.

From there, they’ll return to Bulldog Pit for the first time since Sept. 13 to close out their pre-district slate against Hobbs.

“I’d just like to see us put a whole game together Tuesday,” said Williams. “We’re playing good volleyball and we can see what our potential is. We just have to do it every time and be consistent.”