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A number of Bulldog athletes received a baptism by fire Tuesday in Roswell as the team was forced to compensate for the absence of a significant portion of its varsity lineup.

And although they came up short in the end, 1-3, head coach Alan Williams and his staff couldn’t have been prouder of the way they battled.

“We had to place several girls in different positions last night and were forced to do some things we weren’t used to due to some circumstances,” Williams said this morning. “We still put a fight to them, though.”

The Artesia netters had thrice defeated the Coyotes previously this season, sweeping each meeting in three straight games. But with their roster altered, the ‘Dogs struggled Tuesday to find their rhythm, and Roswell took advantage.

The girls in orange fought tooth and nail in the first two games of the match, coming up just short, 22-25 and 23-25. They were finally able to gain the upper hand in the third set, 25-17, but were caught on their heels early and never recovered in the fourth and final game, 13-25.

“There were girls who were definitely a little uncomfortable having to play some positions and do some things they’re not used to – without much practice and no playing time at this point in the season,” said Williams. “But the girls who did play last night battled. I was proud of the attitude and effort they put forth after having to be put in a tough situation.”

Dezaray Boyce led Artesia in kills Tuesday with 14, Payton Chandler delivered 17 digs, Kersie Beltran posted 33 assists, Makinli Taylor served up a trio of aces, and Paityn Houghtaling and Presley Skinner delivered four blocks apiece.

The Bulldogs will be in the same situation Saturday when they host Hobbs at noon at Bulldog Pit in their first home match since Sept. 13. Artesia topped the Eagles 3-1 Sept. 18 on the road.

“This is our last game before district, so I’m just looking for us to compete and get better,” Williams said. “We’ve got a long break after that before we go into district, so this is really our last chance to polish things up and try to get ready for the games that count.”

Artesia will open District 4-AAAA play Oct. 16 against Lovington. That contest will also serve as both Senior Night and the Bulldogs’ Pink-Out fundraiser.