Odessa College couldn't find it Wednesday night.
The Lady Wranglers stumbled out of the gates against WJCAC rival New Mexico Military Institute, then let opportunities slip as they were swept at the OC Sports Center.
NMMI won 25-19, 25-22, 28-26, taking the first two sets, then storming from behind to snatch away the third and leave Odessa College stunned.
Odessa College led that third set 24-19, after fighting out of a corner and putting itself in position to get back in the match.
But that's when NMMI ripped off six straight points to go up 25-24, and then ultimately take the victory.
"It's very tough," Odessa College head coach Kristi Gray said after the loss. "I am disappointed with the lack of heart in the game. We had set point in that third set … and couldn't finish, and that's disappointing.
"We've got to be stronger and finish that game."
The loss drops Odessa College to 15-11 overall, and 3-2 in WJCAC play. NMMI moved to 19-10, 5-0.
NMMI took its first lead of the third set at 25-24 on an error in Odessa College's passing. After a Lady Wranglers kill tied it back up, NMMI scored again to go ahead, before Bojana Bolozan and Dominique McQueen came up a block to keep the Lady Wranglers alive at 26-26.
But NMMI took the next point, and then, after a long rally, the Broncos captured the match when Bolozan's attack sailed long.
Mariana Ferreira led Odessa College with nine kills, while Maria Da Silva added six and McQueen had five. Bolozan put back nine blocks — but those efforts weren't enough to pull Odessa College past its early struggles.
NMMI led by as many as eight, at 17-9 in the first set, before taking it. Odessa College battled with NMMI in the second, getting in striking distance down just one at 22-21 before NMMI pulled away in that one.
"We came out slow, committing too many errors," Gray said. "We, I think, hit negative in the first set, so that's tough for us.
"Some of our better hitters didn't show up tonight and that hurt us."
In the third, Gray found the right combination of players to get the Lady Wranglers in position to capture the set — but, she said, with the changes came struggles when they had a chance to close the set.
"No. 1, they got quiet," Gray said, alluding to a lack in confidence from her team as NMMI made its rally late in the third. "No. 2, we're still playing with lineups, which isn't good. We should have that figured out right now and we don't. So I'm making changes every set and that doesn't do well with their heads.
"We've got to figure out who's going to work best with who, and unfortunately that hasn't been consistent this season."
The Lady Wranglers will play their final nonconference match of the season when they host Ranger College at 2 p.m. Saturday at the OC Sports Center.
Then, Odessa College will close the season with five straight WJCAC matches which will decide Odessa College's positioning going into the regional tournament at season's end.
"We've just got to come in, have a tough practice tomorrow, and go from there," Gray said.
Article/photo by Justin Lee OA