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Goddard defeats Lovington in straight sets

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Goddard’s Kaitlyn Blakeney (11) returns a Lovington shot. (Steve Notz Photo)

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Goddard coach Dewayne Roberts can’t forget that his Goddard Rockets team was five points away from being state champs. It is on his mind and what fuels him and his team this season. He doesn’t back away from “state champs or bust” this season. He talks about it and puts it out there for his team to embrace and set the standard.

“I know that winning district and state is going to be a battle,” Roberts said. “I think we’re ready for it.”

Was he worried when his team lost two in a row to Santa Teresa at home (25-20, 25-16 and 26-24) and to Portales (25-17, 25-20 and 25-23)? Roberts kept his cool and knew his team would climb out of the late-season funk they were in.

Since those two losses, the Lady Rockets have gone on a three-game winning streak against rivals Roswell, Artesia — and on Tuesday night against Lovington in three straight sets: 25-16, 25-20 and 25-22 at Ground Zero.

“That’s our third win in a row,” Roberts said, “going back to Roswell. We finally get to play a home game, which is nice.”

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Roberts credits his team’s victory over Roswell with helping turn their season around. Because it was a cross-town rivalry his team had to dig down and play tough in order to get the win against Roswell. According to Roberts, that victory helped his team gain momentum going into the weekend match-up against Artesia.

Goddard’s Sophia Price (10) spikes the ball Tuesday at Ground Zero. (Steve Notz Photo)

“We used the Roswell win as a catalyst,” Roberts said. “Since that game, we have been playing pretty good volleyball. We started off 12-1 and we lost two in a row, but I’d rather lose early in the district than at state. I’m very happy and proud of my team and I wasn’t worried at all. I knew we had it in us to come back and win.”

Roberts feels like all teams will go through struggles during the long season. He is looking forward to playing Portales at home, to try and even up the series.

He knows that doesn’t mean anything if they lose to Portales on Saturday.

This series is so big — the state rankings on MaxPreps have Portales ranked No. 1 in the district followed by Artesia at No. 2 and Goddard at No. 3. Goddard has an opportunity to do something about the rankings in their last three games, when they will play those teams again.

“I told our team,” Roberts said. ‘We have to go all out, we have to go all out if we want that Blue Trophy. That has been the goal since day one, we have to go after every single ball in practice and give 100% effort in practice. If we practice like that we’re going to play like that in games.”

Goddard will play Portales at 2 p.m. Saturday at Ground Zero.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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