The Independent (USA)
East Mountain uses ‘mental game’ to outlast Estancia in 5-set battle
After gaining a slim lead in the waning moments of the fifth set of their Sept. 28 matchup against Estancia, East Mountain’s Alyssa Davis went to the line to serve.
Davis lofted the ball across the net and the teams traded a short volley before an Estancia free ball drifted out of bounds on East Mountain’s side, giving the Lady Timberwolves the match point in a fiveset thriller.
Estancia won the first two sets, but East Mountain stormed back to win three straight, securing a 3-2 (19-25, 2125, 25-13, 25-19, 17-15) victory on their home court.
“I’d say that we all came together cuz we were really, really tired,” Davis said about the key to her team’s come-frombehind win. “We were beating ourselves up over nothing and we overcame that, and then toward the end, we wanted to win, and we really, really dug deep within ourselves.”
The Lady Bears dominated at the start of the match with Dezlyn Carreon scoring an ace on the first serve of the night and getting another service ace during a 9-0 run to open the first set. The Lady Bears never trailed in the opening set, leading by double digits before winning 25-19.
“We came out strong,” Carreon said. “In the beginning we were doing really good, we were talking and I feel like we were all really excited and we just believed in ourselves.”
Conversely, East Mountain’s head coach Kasi Giovenco said her players “just kinda came out stagnant, a little flat-footed,” in the first set.
Estancia pulled ahead early in the second set before a kill by East Mountain’s Shandi Gonzalez capped a 5-1 rally, giving the Lady T’wolves a 14-13 lead—their first of the match. The game remained close before the Lady Bears outscored East Mountain 6-2 down the stretch and won the set on a kill by Lucia Orcajo to take a 2-0 advantage.
East Mountain responded in the third set, building a double-digit lead early on and winning 25-13, the game-winning point coming on an ace by Davis.
The fourth set started close with the score tied several times before the Lady T’wolves took control and finished with consecutive kills by Gonzalez and Rachelle Montez to secure the 25-19 victory, knotting the match at two games apiece and forcing a fifth set.
The final game was a back-and-forth battle with the score tied six separate times before grinding to a 15-15 tangle.
With Estancia serving, East Mountain won a seesaw rally to score the go-ahead point and regain the serve. With a 16-15 lead, Davis went to the line and the Lady T’wolves secured the 17-15 win.
“We just didn’t wanna stop so we did whatever we had to do to get there, it’s pretty cool,” Davis said.
“Estancia’s a good team, they’re scrappy and they really gave it to us those first two games, but then I think our girls finally kicked it into gear,” Giovenco said. “Those last two games, and those key crucial points at the end, came down to a mental game, ours was a mental game, just holding that composure during those nitty-gritty times that will make or break that game.”
The day after beating Estancia, East Mountain extended its winning streak with a 3-0 victory at Albuquerque’s Cottonwood Classical Prep. The Lady T’wolves played Sept. 30 at Bernalillo.
Estancia played at Moriarty Sept. 30.