Home Sports Local Sports Gateway Christian surprises Melrose, but loses title

Gateway Christian surprises Melrose, but loses title

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The Gateway Lady Warriors volleyball team stands with the runner-up trophy after Thursday’s state championship game against Melrose at The Pit in Albuquerque. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

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No matter what happens for the rest of their lives, the young ladies from the small Christian school of Gateway Christian will be able to tell their children stories of what it was like to beat the No. 1 seed at The Pit in Albuquerque.

It will be a cautionary tale of what faith and belief can do. Gateway would be telling the truth; they had Melrose on the ropes and frightened after beating them in the first set 25-13.

Somehow, between the break, Gateway didn’t carry over the enthusiasm and excitement from winning the first set. They started to play cautiously as if they didn’t believe they would win, and instead they were hoping to win. That little bit of doubt was enough for Melrose to come back and win in four sets: 25-13, 18-25, 15-25 and 24-26, Thursday.

“It was a tough loss,” Gateway coach Kerri Pirtle said. “After we won the first set, I thought I was finally going to get to see them play their best game of the season. I told our team it is not a loss, but a learning experience and we will learn from this today, it will only help them next year.”

Gateway rallied in the last set and forced an extra point, but too many forced errors and not enough kills doomed their chances of winning against the more experienced Buffalos.

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Gateway loses six seniors: Hannah Martin, Kira Balok, Courtney Gohres, McKayla Fox, Kayli Reeves and Rachel Eliis; they will all be missed. Some of the seniors didn’t play as much as they wanted to, but their contributions became invaluable in showing how to be a real teammate and leader. Because of their unselfishness, it enabled the Warriors to soar to new heights they have never reached in the program’s history.

Four starters return, with a freshman libero coming back and the bulk of the team back to provide depth. With another year of experience, coach Kerri Pirtle is excited after making it to the championship game. She wants the team to expect to win and to expect to be the best, by beating the best.

Coach Pirtle is hoping to find some setters next year. She said she hopes her team expects to be playing for a championship next year.

“I’m saddened to see our seniors go,” Pirtle said, “I talked to them on the bus. I’m so proud of all six of their attitudes and encouragement to their team and (they) had the right mindset whether they were on the court or not. Their attitude helped us be successful.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.