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Volleyball Preview: Local teams ready for 2018

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Shawn Naranjo Photo Roswell’s Julie Espinoza goes for a slam against Goddard in a match at the Coyote Den earlier this season.

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As the stomach turns. What’s unpredictable about sports is, it’s unpredictable: that’s why they play the games. Roswell’s coach Heather Baca’s team got off to a hot 2-0 start. Suddenly in a matter of days, her team is on a four-game skid and looks to break out of it with a little home cooking tonight at the Coyote Den when they take on the Portales Rams.

“I’m disappointed in the way we competed for the last three matches,” Baca said, “but we have been working hard in practice to regroup.”

The Lady Coyotes have beaten the Lady Rams earlier in the season. Baca is looking to get her team back on track before the start of district play on Oct. 9, when they travel to Hobbs.

The Lady Coyotes have six games to fine-tune their play until district play begins.

“One thing I plan to do different,” Baca said, “is to keep athletes on the court that will give it their all and will compete for the whole match.”

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In their last match, they lost in straight sets to Artesia: 15-25, 15-25 and 26-28. The season is still young and several players are still learning the system and how to play together.

“I am hoping to see more teamwork,” Baca said. “I want to see more effort and energy from my team tonight.”

Roswell will take on the Portales Rams at 6:30 p.m. at the Coyote Den.

Goddard

First-year coach Dwayne Roberts did not like losing and told his team that. He told them he expected them to play up to his standards and that hustling and giving effort was non-negotiable and that they had to earn the right to wear the uniform. Nothing that 10 days off between matches and hustle drills during practices to get his point across.

Roberts has his team at .500, winning three-out-of-four games to go 3-3 on the season. With a game against Clovis tonight, look for his team’s height to present problems. Roberts at any one time can have three players at the net measuring 5-foot-11 and blocking shots.

“Winning three of the four games is a good start,” Roberts said. “I’m more happy with the way we are playing good volleyball and improving in all of our matches.”

His team is getting more comfortable playing together and learning his system, which he used at Sul Ross University. The team is playing at a faster tempo than they were used to last season.

“The team is getting more comfortable with the system we are running,” Roberts said, “and it shows.”

Goddard took third place in the Tournament of Champions in Santa Fe on Saturday. Goddard will play Clovis at 6:30 p.m at Ground Zero today.

Hagerman

Hagerman has started the season strong, going on a four-game winning streak after losing their first game of the season. The Lady Bobcats will be fairly young this season with two seniors on the team. Coach Monica Morales always has her sights set on a district championship and to qualify for a state tourney bid.

“We’re fairly young,” Morales said. “This is somewhat of a rebuilding year for us. Our kids have filled positions and are doing quite well and know their roles.”

Morales noted several standout players in Esther DelaCruz, who is a middle hitter and defensive specialist, with junior Cerria Lucero as the libero and senior Bethaney Barelay as the setter.

“Overall, our team is playing well together,” Morales stated. “We are communicating well. I’ve been happy with how our team has come together and how scrappy we are.”

Hagerman travels to Mescalero Apache for a 5 p.m. contest today.

Gateway Christian

Gateway Christian coach Kerri Pirtle has the team off to a fast start winning their first four games. The team will be off until Thursday when they face New Mexico Military Institute.

Coach Pirtle has lost some key players from last year’s squad but feels like her setters are solid. She is getting healthy as one of her players is coming back from an ACL with another of her players coming back in October. Pirtle feels like with the experience she has back and the new players, they are in between rebuilding and being able to compete for a championship.

“Our goals are to play with intensity every game, “Pirtle said. “I saw a lot of it our first game and we lacked it in the second game, we need more consistency there.”

The team has some great hitters in Lauren Wulf and Aubrey Freese with a good setting core of Kaylee Stephens, Sierra Fresquea and Isabel Worrall. The team will have a new libero in MJ Stephens.

“MJ has a lot of raw talent,” Pirtle said. “I was surprised how well we played together our first game. I have high expectations for them now.”

Gateway Christian returns to the court at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday when they take on NMMI.

Dexter

Dexter lost Marlou Blankvoort, Madison Bogle, Bryana Munoz, Darcie Regalado, Fatima Lopez, and Allyssa Madden. All they did in their four years as seniors was play in the state champions game and make it to state four years. Oh! — and they lost coach Andy likens, who is refereeing. Instead of making strategy calls he’s making out calls. New coach Lisa Granados will rely on four seniors in Yasmine Martinez, Jessica Burch, Ashley Gonzalez and Yajaira Sosa. The team has gotten off to a slow start going 1-3, but look to get back to their winning ways as they defeated Clayton on Saturday. Dexter will play at 5:30 p.m. at home today against Texico.