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Dexter looking to win state volleyball


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This season wasn’t supposed to be as hard as it was.

Dexter volleyball fans figured they’d be right back in the state title game against say, a Texico that appears to have their number. Texico defeated them for the state championship last year: 25-23, 19-25, 25-19, 25-19. This season, Dexter has lost to the Wolverines twice. For the Lady Demons to face off against Texico again this season, both teams will have to meet in the championship game.

“I don’t think they (Texico) have our number,” said Dexter coach Andy Luikens. “They have had it. No. I think we have as good of a chance against them as we ever had against them.”

Dexter lost just one player off their team last season, and what a player she was. Yanelly Ronquillo was the captain of the team last year. They missed her leadership, and the intangibles that hold a team together. Ronquillo exhibited consistent play.

“We only lost one girl from our team last year,” Luikens said. “We not only needed to replace her, but we replaced her with two girls who weren’t playing with us last year. We tried a bunch of different lineups. At one point, we were 6-6 starting district play.”

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The Lady Demons (15-5, 9-0 in District 4-3A) righted the ship just at the right time. They caught fire at the beginning of district play, only dropping one set all season long and that was to Loving.

Dexter will go to the tournament as the No. 3 seed, with Texico the No.1 seed, and Santa Rosa as the No. 2 seed. The tournament begins today when Dexter plays at Cleveland High School against Rehoboth at 1 p.m., and they will face Desert Academy immediately after that to determine the reseeding for the night tournament.

The Lady Demons has played both Texico and Santa Rosa this season, losing to them both. Coach Luikens thinks that if they face off this time, they will see an improved team from earlier in the year. Desert Academy was an opponent Dexter played last year, defeating them in the semifinals, 3-1.

“We’re just trying to take it one step at a time,” Luikens said, “and win our pool. We’d like to win our pool so that we get a bye and don’t have to play Thursday night.”

Dexter starts five seniors with the last senior being a serving specialist. This team won’t be afraid of the bright lights. Nearly everyone has played for the volleyball championship last season. Dexter boasts three athletes who have won state championships in softball this past spring: Bryana Munoz, Marlou Blankvoort and Darcie Regalado, with Aryana Munoz and Danique Blankvoort coming up as eighth-graders.

“I would say this is as good of a shot to win state as any we have had,” Luikens said.

The reason the Lady Demons have been successful is they practice passing the ball. By practicing passing, Luikens believes that if they can control the ball, they can eventually catch teams off guard.

“You can practice hitting all you want,” Luikens said. “If you can’t get the ball to the setter, all your practicing hitting isn’t going to help you at all. We really stress ball control, passing, digging and aggressive serving.”

Luikens and his coaching staff have talked to his team about being diligent with their time, effort and their attitude toward all things, in volleyball, school and with their family.

“Our seniors are a great group of girls,” Luikens said. “I taught them as elementary physical education kids, so I knew they would be special. As eighth-graders, they were undefeated until their very last game, losing to Artesia’s freshman team.”

One of the reasons for the slow start this season is that Luikens overlooked some things, and assumed they would be just as good as they were last year. He just thought the girls would pick back up from where they left off last year, forgetting that some of the girls hadn’t picked up a volleyball in eight months. Luikens went back to the basics and adjusted his practices.

“What I love about these kids,” Luikens said, “they’re just gamers. You can tell they just want to be out there. They are that way in every sport they play.”


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