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Rivalry lives up to billing

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Cheyenne Martinez goes for a kill shot against Goddard in the first set of the match as Roswell defeats Goddard in five sets. (Steve Notz Photo)

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Goddard first-year volleyball coach Dewayne Roberts has coached in college at Sul Ross University, but Roberts never had a season-opening match with the intensity of the Goddard -Roswell rivalry. It didn’t take him long to figure out in this town a fan is either blue or red.

With the gymnasium packed on a Tuesday night and the season opener for both teams, fans from both sides were cheering their teams on, with security from both schools present. Roswell looked like it was going to make quick work of the Lady Rockets as they won the first two sets, 25-18 and 25-14.

In the third match, Goddard started to dominate at the net with their height and jumped out to a quick 15-3 lead before winning 25-14 and the next set, 25-21.

It came down to the fifth set as the Lady Coyotes scored, they took a commanding 7-1 lead before pulling away with a 15-9 victory at Ground Zero. The Lady Coyotes won at Ground Zero in five sets 25-18, 25-14, 14-25, 21-25 and 15-9.

“We practice for the fifth set all the time,” Baca said. “They know it is the first team to 5, the first team to 10 and that’s how we play it. We try to be the first team to 10, it’s a gut set, a who wants it more set. That’s how we approach it. It feels good to win. Goddard is a good team and I think they are going to do some good things in their classification this season. It’s a tough opening game for both of us. It always feels good to beat your cross-town rival.”

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Even though the teams are no longer in the same district, it is still a cross-town rivalry and the competition is no less fierce, with neither side wanting to lose.

Roswell has a lot to build on as coach Heather Baca substituted regally keeping her team fresh. Baca was able to get a steady serving from Alex Gonzalez as she served six straight points in the first game and power hitting from Cheyenne Martinez, with libro Jalen Baca passing efficiently to set her teammates up for kills.

“We relaxed too much and lost our focus,” Baca said. “I think Goddard minimized their errors. I think they had 15-20 service errors in the first two sets when they settled down and got rid of the nerves, they were able to put more pressure on us and we relaxed too much.”

Goddard has so much to build upon as the season goes on. Once the team learns to play in the new system coach Roberts has introduced, their height will present problems for teams as it did for the Lady Coyotes.

“We’re big,” coach Roberts said. “We’re trying to find out how to make that work in our favor. It is a tall lineup. You can’t teach height. Now we know what it’s like to play in a match in the regular season. We came out a little low on energy and slow, that third set is where we need to be at high energy, high effort and that’s where we need to be at.”

Roberts put Sophie Price, Vittoria Price, Valerie Martinez, Aliyah Valdez and all-stater Lacie Schooley on the floor at the same time and presented matchup problems at the net for other teams as they took turns in the third and fourth games at the net hitting kill shot against Roswell.

Being down two games to none was too much as the Lady Rockets ran out of steam in the fifth set.

“Coming back from a 0-2 down says a lot about our character,” coach Roberts said. “I’m not happy with the results but at the same time, it would have been super easy for us to roll over and let it be over within three sets. We came back and took it to five sets.”

Goddard returns home at 6:30 p.m. to take on Hobbs.

Roswell travels to Portales on Thursday and will play at 6:30 p.m.