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Lady Coyotes dominate Wildcats in quick sweep

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Roswell junior Cheyenne Martinez goes for the score against Lovington on Thursday at the Coyote Den. (David Rocha Photo)

The Roswell Lady Coyote volleyball team stayed unbeaten in district play with a dominating sweep of the visiting Lovington Lady Wildcats with three nice wins 25-11, 25-15, and 25-14. The ‘Yotes used a dominating performance at the service line and an equally effective serve-receive game to keep an effective offense going throughout the match.

“I think Lovington is much improved,” stated coach Heather Baca. “They did some good things. They have a couple of girls that can hit the ball really well. I thought we played decent tonight. I thought it was a little sloppy at times, but we were able to serve-receive real well and that kept us in system which helped us offensively.”

The Lady Cats, having their best season since 2011, played well in spurts, but could not put together a complete set as they are still looking for that initial first victory since entering ultra-competitive district 4-5A in 2014.

Both teams played a pretty even first part of the initial set as the ‘Yotes (9-7 overall) led only 6-4. The front line of Julia Espinoza, Kaitlyn Holl, and Nayelli Morales (in addition to her setting duties) started to get the Lovington hitters to alter their shots and the hosts started to take control.

With the Coyotes leading 10-5, the Cats took a time out to no avail as Alex Gonzalez got a kill to continue the ‘Yote run. The diminutive Jalen Baca promptly served up some bombs and, before you knew it, the lead was a commanding 17-5.

“We served the ball well tonight,” stated Baca. “We have been working really hard on passing and serving all season. We believe those are the staple of volleyball.”

The Cats (9-7 overall) would tack on some points late, but could not get a sustained run going. Lake kills by Cheyenne Martinez and Espinoza and a timely tip by Martinez along with a final net violation would give Roswell High set one 25-11.

With the Coyotes sporting some new faces in the lineup for set two, the Cats would jump out quickly 5-1. A nice kill by Valeria Bonilla couldn’t get the hosts untracked as the Cats would race out to an 11-3 advantage. Lovington would see their big hitter Alexis Borunda, who was mostly contained in the opening set, get 4 monster kills in the early run.

The Coyotes would slowly get back into the game as Elisa Paez’ serving started to give the Cats all sorts of passing issues as the hosts climbed back into it at 11-8 and would eventually tie the game at 13-all.

Lovington errors and an effective Coyote offense saw the score start to mount for the hosts as they would close the set on a 12-2 run. Two kills by Gonzalez would make it 22-15 and then Mercedes Ponce would wrap up the final thre points from the service line to make it 25-15.

Coach Baca was real pleased with all of her players being able to contribute. “We are trying to spread our offense out a little bit. Make it a little bit more versatile so that’s kind of the game plan. We did a good job of mixing it up tonight.”

Set three was very even in the early moments as the Cats would lead 7-6. Gonzalez had two early kills for the Coyotes and then her teammates would get in on the hitting parade as Holl and Savannah Grado would help the Coyote lead go from a slim 10-8 edge to a commanding 17-12 lead.

The Coyotes continued to roll as they used a late dink by Grado, a great dig by Ponce, another kill by Gonzalez and the strong serving of Perez to wrap up the 25-14 win and the victory.

The Coyotes travel to Artesia on Tuesday for a key district matchup with the #3-ranked Lady Dogs.

“They are definitely the team to beat,” stated Baca. “We played them once already and lost in four so we know what to expect from them and it’s just going to be a battle. I think we definitely can compete with them and I think we are pretty evenly matched. They have some big hitters that we are going to have to shut down.”