Coach Heather Baca knows the bonds that a mother and daughter have that are unbreakable. She carried daughter, Jalen Baca for nine months. Now, Heather is hoping her daughter, Jalen, a senior and team captain can help carry the Lady Coyotes to state. To do that, Roswell needs to win one more game — the next game at Hobbs.
The Lady Coyotes are one step closer after they turned away a pesky Clovis team. The Lady Wildcats came alive in the third set. Clovis was dormant for the first two games but suddenly — with their season on the line — they played with an urgency and looked like they were going to extend the Lady Coyotes. The third set, which was the most active, saw both teams diving for balls and making blocks at the net to force extra points.
Roswell’s Karissa Mesquita made a kill to salt the game away but there were blocks at the net and kills by senior Ashley Sanchez as she played strong. None of her blocks or points were bigger than when she made a kill at the net to give Roswell a 25-24 lead. It would be enough for the Lady Coyotes to hold off Clovis in three sets: 25-15, 25-14 and 28-26, Thursday night at the Coyote Den.
“Ashley (Sanchez) has gotten better as the season has gone on,” Baca said. “I knew it would take her some time to get rolling after sitting out last season with a broken leg, but she has come on for us at the right time.”
The one game Roswell and coach Baca would like to have back is the game against Hobbs on Monday. They lost in five games and came up short. The teams have faced each other four times and have split the series 2-2. Now comes the game to decide it all for Roswell.
Win and they’re in, lose and it is very remote they get in. Roswell is No. 14 in state rankings, according to Max Preps, with only the top 12 teams getting in. Hobbs is ranked No. 15 in state rankings and will get in because they have won the regular-season crown in the tiebreaker playoff Monday.
“We battled really hard the whole set on Monday,” Roswell coach Heather Baca said. “The cards didn’t fall our way at the end, so we got one more shot on Saturday. This will be the fifth time we’ve played Hobbs. We know them well and they know us well — it should be a good match.”
Baca is pleased with the improvement of the team since the start of the season. The team has improved on the offense when they struggled to find scoring. The team has settled into a routine and found scoring, which has come from hard work and playing together during the season.
Another key for the good season the Lady Coyotes have had is the leadership of their seven seniors — Jalen Baca, Rael Gonzales, Alyssa Williams, Samantha Williams, Ashley Sanchez, Karissa Mesquita and Makenzie Tarin — which has made this a memorable season for them.
“Obviously, she (Jalen Baca) has gotten to play in the state tournament three years in a row,” Baca said. “Obviously, as a senior, I want her to get to experience it one last time. She has been a crucial part of our team, she’s been solid all year. Jalen has over 600 digs for the season and been amazing for us in the backcourt on defense. I’m sad to see her go, but it’s been a good ride.”
Baca is proud to have seen and coached her daughter in every single game Jalen has played in high school. The time spent together is probably too fresh for them to reminisce and put meaning to it; as both are on a mission to get to state and win state.
Other contributing factors for the good season this year are the team’s work in the weight room and the continuous reps playing: digging, serving and working on their game as they have gotten better during the season.
“I’m hoping for a strong finish on Saturday,” Baca said. “I’m hoping for an opportunity to keep playing next week. Our kids know it’s a must-win for us on Saturday.”
Roswell will play at Hobbs on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.