Odessa College already had coughed up an eight-point lead and was on the verge of heading to a decisive fifth set against New Mexico Military Institute.
Fortunately for the Lady Wranglers, Jackie Bautista wasn't going to let that happen.
The freshman middle blocker from El Paso took charge when Odessa College needed her most Wednesday night. Bautista had a hand in the final five points won by the Lady Wranglers - two solo blocks, a block assist, a kill and a service ace - to help her team prevail in a tight fourth set and win 25-14, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23 in a Western Junior College Athletic Conference volleyball match at the Odessa College Sports Center.
"I was just determined and I was focused," said Bautista, who helped Odessa College overcome a 21-19 deficit in the fourth set. "Every ball was mine."
The win was the Lady Wranglers' third in a row in conference play and sixth in their last eight matches overall. Odessa College (14-9 overall, 3-2 WJCAC) also got its first-ever win against New Mexico Military Institute (11-14, 1-5), which swept three matches against the Lady Wranglers' during their inaugural season a year ago.
Whereas Bautista took over late to help the Lady Wranglers close out the Lady Broncos, Laura Reigh dominated early to help her team race out to a lead. The sophomore from Snyder had seven of her match-high 12 kills in the first two sets, in which Odessa College never trailed, including five in the opening set.
"We were so pumped up because we had never beaten NMMI before," Reigh said. "Being a sophomore, you want that so bad. … You have to beat them at least once in your time here."
It looked like it might be an easy win for a while, but NMMI came roaring back in the third set. The Lady Broncos' Mattie Tigges had four of her nine kills in the set and served during a five-point run that turned an 18-15 lead into a runaway toward the fourth set.
The Lady Wranglers started to run away that fourth set, building a 17-9 lead. But starting with a block by Agatha Gibbons - who led NMMI with 11 kills and four total blocks - the Lady Broncos won 10 of the next 11 points to put pressure back on Odessa College.
"In the third set we finally decided to block and be patient and wait," NMMI coach Shelby Forchtner said. "We were jumping early and then basically giving them a free net. We finally slowed down and we were patient. We dug some more balls that we did not dig in the first few games, just being a little bit more aggressive, and then we got more aggressive with our serving."
But the Lady Broncos' .085 hitting percentage - than had only 39 kills on 130 attack attempts - hurt them in the long run. They also were done in a by a well-rounded performance by the Lady Wranglers, who blocked particularly well.
Odessa College racked up 16 blocks as a team. Aline Rosario led the way with 5.5, and Bautista added 4.5.
Bautista had 2.5 of her blocks during the last eight points of the match, which helped put the Lady Wranglers over the top.
"We did really well at the net," Odessa College coach Alana Rowland said. "I'm not displeased by any means."