For the first time in recent years, the Hotchkiss Bulldogs are set to advance to the district volleyball tournament without having to play an elimination round pigtail game.
Hotchkiss is now 9-9 overall and 6-5 in the 2A/1A Western Slope League after ending the week with a non-conference, 3-2 (18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 12-15) loss to De Beque (9-9, 5-6, 1A District 1).
"Frustrating" was one word coach Peter Nethington had for the loss. But he also had praise for the team's overall performance and its ability to overcome a two-game deficit and take the match to five sets.
Unofficially, senior Carson Collins had 12 kills for the match.
In the second set, Elsie Mendoza-Vasquez scored three late-game kills and played solid defense to pull the Bulldogs from a five-point deficit to a 21-23 game.
The momentum carried over to game three. The Bulldogs trailed, 1-4, to start the set, but rebounded on kills by Vasquez, Collins and Aubree Harward to put the team within a point of the Dragons. A serving ace by Collins tied the game at 16. After tying the game up again at 18, the Bulldogs pulled ahead, with Collins making a tie-breaking kill for a 24-23 lead.
Three kills by Collins and two by Fatima Rodriguez helped boost the Bulldogs to a 25-22 win in the fourth set. Despite two kills by Collins, solid defense and long rallies, Hotchkiss was unable to pull out a fifth-set win.
On Oct. 12 the Bulldogs swept their non-conference match against Ouray, 26-24, 25-22, 25-7. Hotchkiss will wrap up regular season competition Thursday at Plateau Valley. The 2A District 5 tournament opens Friday, Oct. 27, at Grand Valley High School in Parachute.