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Lady Coyotes ready for state

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Seen in action in a photo from earlier this month is the Roswell High School Lady Coyotes volleyball team.

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In a season where Roswell’s win-loss record might not indicate it was a successful season by her standards, Lady Coyotes coach Heather Baca hopes teams in the state tournament will look at their record and sleep on them, thinking Roswell is an easy out.

What teams should be looking at is how well the Lady Coyotes have played against some of the toughest teams in District 4-5A. In the last three weeks of the season, Roswell is playing some of its best volleyball, defeating District champ Artesia at home on Oct. 26, in four sets. Roswell’s victory over the Lady Bulldogs was one of two losses they suffered in the season.

“We like the matchup against Artesia,” Baca said. “We think we have a good shot to compete in Pool Play.”

Roswell (11-10, 4-2 District 4-5A) has a mix of youth to go along with six seniors. For some of her players, this will be their first time under the big lights of state playoff volleyball as they begin Pool Play on Thursday at 8 a.m. in Albuquerque.

Here’s how Pool Play works. Everybody will play two different teams in Pool Play. Teams get seeded to their pool. In Roswell’s pool, it is No. 2, 11, and 7 seed. Each of those teams will play each other two games to 21. The other three pools will do the same. Then each team will reseed into the bracket. If Roswell wins their bracket, they would get a bye in the first round Thursday evening.

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“I think we are progressing as a team,” Baca said. “We talked about what it’s going to take to compete at the state level. When you get to state, there is not a team that is weak and we are going to have to play our best to be competitive.”

Their first match will be against the No. 2 seed Artesia Bulldogs, and after that game they will play Bloomfield to see where they will be seeded for the afternoon’s game.

In the afternoon game, the teams will play a single elimination game, meaning they’re out of the tournament if they lose once. Roswell goes into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. Goddard, the other local team, is ranked as the No. 9 seed.

“I think we have just as good a shot as anyone,” Baca said. “We have to play well during Pool Play.”

In the last two years, the Lady Coyotes have advanced to the semifinals and have made it to the state tournament in five of the six years Baca has been coach. She thinks this team has all of the ingredients to play with anyone in the tournament. What concerns her a little is some of her players will be making their first appearance at the state tournament. As a coach, she knows each kid handles pressure differently.

“Absolutely,” Baca said, “I think when we play as well as we can, that we’re a pretty balanced team. We can attack from all three front row locations. I think we have some pretty good defensive kids that have come on towards the end of the season. I think both Goddard’s and our records doesn’t reflect the quality, or caliber of teams we are. Both of us (Goddard and Roswell) have the toughest strength of schedule in 5A. I think that’s to our advantage and we’ll surprise some people.”

The Lady Coyotes are not intimidated by any team they will have to face during the tournament, as they have played the No. 1 seed St. Pius X in a match before.  The Lady Coyotes need a big offensive effort from seniors Kaitlyn Holl, Cheyenne Martinez and Alex Gonzalez, if they are to go deep into the tournament.

“I have a lot more depth defensively than I do offensively,” Baca said. “I expect my defensive kids to play tough, they’ve done a good job these last five matches. They have kept us in some games we wouldn’t have been in otherwise. As a coach of high school girls you just hope you’ve prepared them well and they come emotionally ready to play.”

Go to www.nmact.org for full schedule.