The TCMS Tigers’ volleyball teams have finished what can only be regarded as a remarkable season. The seventh-grade team, packed with athletes who had never before played volleyball, let alone done so competitively finished their regular season with a respectable 5-5 regular season record. That they were eliminated in the tournament on the first round does nothing to diminish their accomplishments.
The eighth-grade team, the middle school’s varsity if you will, completed their regular season 11-1, the kind of record any Tiger team would love to have. Most fans looking at this would see it that way. Talking with the athletes, however, tells a different story. What they saw was the loss.
At the middle school end of season tournament, held in Deming on Saturday, September 28, our eighth-grade team had a bye in the first round, due to having the best in district record. There were seven teams competing. Competing in the tournament were Hatch Valley, La Plata Middle School (Silver), Lordsburg, Snell Middle School (Cobre), Socorro, T-or-C Middle School and the host, Red Mountain Middle School (Deming).
The Tigers drew Lordsburg for their first match, in the tournament semi-finals. They dispatched them fairly easily, in two straight sets, 25-13 and 25-15, in the best of three format used in middle school and high school JV volleyball.
Early in both sets the Tigers and Lordsburg stayed very close, seesawing back and forth, with Lordsburg even taking the lead, once by four points. By midway through each set, the Tigers settled into their rhythm and took complete command.
The championship match, with La Plata, was a battle from start to finish. The Tigers won the first set, 25-22, in a game that remained very close. The biggest lead in the set for either team came at 19-15, Tigers, behind Ava Harrelson’s serves. Volleys lasted for long minutes throughout the three sets, and neither team ever truly dominated.
Through the next two sets it stayed much the same. The 4-A Silver City team eked out wins in those 23-25 and the tiebreaker set, played to 15 points, by 10-15. In neither set did they dominate. The Tigers were in both to the end. Though they had to accept second place in the tournament, even with that loss, at 11-2 overall, they had the best record by far in their district, one that includes 4-A and 5-A schools.
This is a team with Tigers who will contribute to Tiger volleyball for years to come.
With leaping power serves dished out by Arianna Alaniz, low bullet-like drives of Tazhia Bilyeu or those deadly precision serves by Mariah Hernandez, teams often cannot even return serve. With defenders and a front line that includes Ava Harrelson, Alyssa Bailon and Mahela Hernandez, receiving and sending back over attacks that land with increasing frequency their record is no mystery. Last but by no means least, add in Hannah Hawkins, the Tiger who seemed to be striking everywhere, attacking, blocking and serving and driving spikes into the hearts of all Tiger opponents, and you have a team of future Tiger All-Stars.
They may call them Tiger Cubs, but they proved that they are more than ready to run with the big cats.