Home Sports Local Sports Kerri Pirtle gets an early look at Lady Warriors

Kerri Pirtle gets an early look at Lady Warriors

Gateway Christian volleyball coach Kerri Pirtle sets up the net during Thursday’s open gym. (Mike Smith Photo)

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This month, Gateway Christian head volleyball coach Kerri Pirtle is getting a sneak preview of what the Lady Warriors could look like when the season starts late next month.

Open gyms for volleyball teams like Pirtle’s started July 1.

“We had a great turnout (for) our very first open gym,” Pirtle said. “We try to go three days a week, and this week we had a team camp and had a very good turnout. We had 21 girls and I thought we made a lot of progress in three days and I think they’re tired, they got a lot of work in.”

The Lady Warriors were blazing during the first few weeks of last season. Gateway was 7-0 before losing the first match of the season to Dora on Sept. 21.

Gateway finished the season at 16-7 and lost to Tatum in the first round of the state playoffs. The Lady Warriors were swept by the Lady Coyotes in league play as well.

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During the district battles, the Lady Warriors got hit with some key injuries and Pirtle had to make some changes to the lineup in a hurry.

One of the key losses was Sierra Fresquez. Pirtle said she suffered a pair of knee injuries last year. The first was in volleyball and the second was in basketball.

Besides losing Fresquez, the other key injury last year was to Kaylee Stephens. Pirtle said she went down during a district tournament match against Hagerman.

Going into the state tournament, Pirtle wasn’t sure if she was going to have any setters. Help was on the way for the Lady Warriors.

“One of our alternate setters stepped up and played all the way around and we moved one of our outside hitters to the setter position and so we made a lot of changes in a very short amount of time and no games to implement those changes to even see what they were doing to look like before we went up to state,” Pirtle said.

Pirtle feels that Isabel Worral and Lauren Wulf answered the call.

“She was my outside hitter and transitioned over to a setter,” Pirtle said of Wulf.

Pirtle also gives credit to Yami Garcia as well. She was called up from the junior varsity squad when the injury bug hit the Lady Warriors.

“She came in and played outside for us at state to help fill that gap,” Pirtle said.

Last year, Gateway had five seniors and this year, Pirtle is expected to have plenty of leadership from all grade levels.

Pirtle isn’t sure if Sierra Fresquez will participate in summer or drills.

“She’s still not cleared to come back this year,” Pirtle said.

Kaylee Stephens, on the other hand, is expected to be back and Pirtle feels that the incoming junior will be a strong leader.

“She has been cleared to return to play,” Pirtle said. “So she will be back with us this season and we really look for that. She’s been steady for us and she has played varsity since she was a freshman. She’s a great leader.”

Pirtle will also be counting on Wulf, Worral, Garcia and Aubrey Freeze.

While the Lady Warriors have some familiar faces returning, they will be competing in a different class. A year ago at this time, Gateway was getting ready to compete in Class 2A. However, due to some classification changes by the New Mexico Activities Association, the school will be competing in Class 1A.

Jal and Hagerman are gone from the league schedule. Gateway and Tatum will now be joined by Dora, Elida, Floyd and Lake Arthur.

“So that will be large competition in our district,” Pirtle said. “Another thing is having so many teams in our district and having so many district games and that is a big change for us going from four teams in that district to that many.”

Pirtle thinks the Lady Warriors will be up to the challenge when they face new foes later this season.

“Sometimes, you can get in a rut. I think it will be a good challenge for us and exciting,” Pirtle said.

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