The Belen High School volleyball team played the role of generous host at their season-opening Belen Invitational last Friday and Saturday. Having planned the party, the Lady Eagles were hoping to get in on the fun. Instead, the whole thing was pretty much a headache.

“We were a little disappointed, a little frustrated. We thought we’d do a little better,” said Lady Eagle head coach Barbara Rodriguez.

The Lady Eagles placed seventh in the eight-team field, finishing ahead of only the Belen junior varsity squad.

Several factors played into the disappointing showing. For one, the Lady Eagles didn’t play a scrimmage match this season it was the first time the they had been together on the floor. Also, the Belen varsity played with just seven players as senior transfer Elisa Wader sat out awaiting eligibility. “She’s probably our most consistent player,” the coach said of Wader.

Belen was seeded seventh after Friday’s pool play, which determined the brackets for Saturday.

The Lady Eagles were matched up against sixth-seeded Socorro in the consolation bracket. The Warriors went on to beat Belen 15-12, 15-7, 15-9.

The Belen varsity played the JV in Saturday’s second match and won in three-straight games, 15-9, 15-8, 15-7.

Coach Rodriguez said she thought the varsity played its best against the JV. “A lot of it is a mental thing for us,” she said. “We play good ball with our JV because we’re confident. With the other teams, it’s kind of wait and see. We play timid. We need to be tons more aggressive.”

In the championship bracket, Hot Springs defeated Grants in the final 15-13, 15-4, 15-11. Grants did a good job of shutting down University of New Mexico-bound Georgia Whitson of Taos to advance to the final.

Making the all-tournament team were Whitson; Janna Taylor, Jeana Goetz, Yvonne Luchini of Hot Springs; Tiffany Hobbs of Grants; Kristina Desiderio of Thoreau; Jara Hooee of Zuni; Danielle Garza of Socorro and Navora Cordova of Belen.

Cordova, a senior setter, wasn’t the only good thing about the tournament from the Belen perspective. “It was a good chance to see what we need to work on, and it gave me a good look at the junior varsity. There are some good athletes on the JV who might be able to help us in the long run.”

Belen’s next match is at Los Lunas on Thursday. The varsity match is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

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