Home Sports Local Sports Dexter volleyball back in state playoffs this year

Dexter volleyball back in state playoffs this year

In this file photo, Kayla Aguirre hit the ball. Dexter plays Sandia Prep today at 11:30 a.m. (Jeannie Harris Photo)

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For a while, Dexter volleyball going to the state tournament seemed like their birthright. They had been to five straight state tournaments, but they fell on hard times last year when they had to replace the ultra-successful coach Andy Luikens. He resigned late citing that he wanted to spend more time with family. He can often be seen officiating volleyball games in the area.

Last season, Lisa Granados was hired to replace Luikens late in the summer. It was a disastrous season. The team was young and took their lumps. This season, athletic director Dave Campbell went with co-coaches Melissa Duran and veteran golf coach Larry VandenBout.

It seems like Dexter has hit on a winning combination with the co-coaches because it has the Lady Demons back in the playoffs as the No.12 seed. According to Duran, the team has come along way in their play and improved to the point where they’re back in the dance. It would serve Sandia Prep well not to just go by Dexter’s overall record. Dexter is a dangerous No.12 seed.

“Coach VandenBout and I came in as new first-year coaches for volleyball this season,” Duran said. We did not know what to expect.  However, the work that the entire team — players, coaches, parents and community — have put in has allowed us the opportunity to make state this year, and we are proud of that.”

Duran feels like they scrapped the old ways of doing things and thought outside the box as far as the team was concerned. They discarded last season and decided to start anew.

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They did that by encouraging players and worked on their skills. This also included moving players to positions they have never played before. If the team made mistakes or lost games, the coaches were positive and had the players let it go and didn’t dwell on their past but concerned themselves on what was before them.

“We are excited to be back in the state tournament this year,” Duran said. “We do not look backward at past seasons, only forward toward what we can learn to make our team better and improve our players’ skills.”

One of our key players and a leader for Dexter is Monique Fuentes. She is a setter and an all-around player. According to Duran, Fuentes leads the team in heart and attitude and they are hoping to see great things from her in this tournament.

Another big gun for the Lady Demons is Danique Blankvoort. She is the team’s middle hitter and leads them in kills and plays with an intense attitude. Chelsea Torres is another all-around player that puts forth the effort needed during tough games.

Kayla Aguirre is their libero who dominates the back row and has improved Dexter’s chances to win throughout the season. Alondra Alvarez and Emily Delgado are the Demons’ height at the net and support the team as hitters. The rest of the team is a consistent force of support in any position they are needed to play.

“For the tournament,” Duran said, “we expect our girls to take 100% effort and their ‘A’ game. We want to see a game where all of our key players and leaders reach their full potential — something we have not done collectively yet — but they do have the potential to do so. This is what we have to do in order to compete well this week and make that deep run in the tournament.”

Dexter plays today against Sandia Prep at 11:30 a.m., at Santa Ana Star Center on court 2.


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