For Goddard, the rematch against Santa Teresa meant a little more to them. Not only was it a chance to go to the semifinals, it was a chance to serve a dish called revenge. Earlier in the season, Santa Teresa walked into Ground Zero and handed the Lady Rockets a three-set loss: 25-20, 15-16 and 26-24 on Oct. 5.
On Thursday, the Desert Warriors sat on the side of the court and watched Goddard play. Santa Teresa head coach Art Aguirre told his team, “See, they’re just like we faced before.”
Maybe the Desert Warriors were overconfident, and maybe Goddard had something to prove. No matter what, for Goddard, it’s winning time and they took their game up a notch and beat Santa Teresa in four sets: 25-22, 25-23, 22-25 and 25-17.
“Santa Teresa is a very good team,” Roberts said. “I think our girls played very, very well. It was a roller coaster in the third set and we ended up dropping that game. I’m very proud of my team for bouncing back in the fourth set and took care of business the way we needed to.”
The one thing that no volleyball coach can teach is height. Last year, the team was led by a front line of Vittoria Price and her sister, Sophia Price, along with Lacie Schooley and Aliyah Valdez.
With the graduation of Sophie Price, she helped lead New Mexico Military Institute to a junior college playoff. Head coach Dewayne Roberts held open tryouts and picked a freshman to help form a front line wall in freshman Sophia Valdez.
“I think it has helped having Aliyah be a mentor to Sophia,” Roberts said. “I believe they both can learn from each other. I selected Sophia for varsity as a freshman because I knew she could play varsity and make a meaningful contribution to the team.”
Most freshmen are not ready for big-time volleyball, but Roberts thought she could handle it with the help of her sister, Aliyah in the tradition of Goddard volleyball. Sophia has progressed really fast as Roberts has started her the whole season, and she will be in the front row with her sister on rotations at times during the game.
“I’d be lying to say there was no revenge,” Roberts said. “Yes, it left a bitter taste in my mouth and it left a bitter taste in the girls’ mouths. We wanted that win and they beat us at Ground Zero. We want to defend that home turf as much as possible.
Roberts feels like Aliyah Valdez has stepped into a big role for the Lady Rockets this year. He said he was proud of how much she has contributed to the team’s success this year.
“We’re not done,” Roberts said. “We’re not going to be happy until we are lifting that Blue Trophy. I’m very proud of the girls working hard every day and fighting for the trophy.”
Goddard does not know who they will play on Saturday. Los Lunas and Silver were playing at press time. The winner of that game will face St. Pius, and the winner of that match-up will play Goddard at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho at 1:15 p.m. on Court 2.
For Roswell’s volleyball coach, Heather Baca, there’s a sadness to the end. The end came for seven seniors, not because they weren’t talented enough or good enough — it came because they had to face the No. 3 team in 5A.
Roswell, since moving up in classifications, has had to match up with powerhouse teams from up north. On Thursday, it was Las Cruces and Friday, Cibola. Grateful to make it to the dance, Baca wants to make noise when her teams show up. Baca has shown she can coach and win at all levels, especially when they moved Roswell up two years ago in classification to the largest district.
When schools have twice the amount of students and talent to pick from, it is a good day just to make it to the stage. It hurts for the Lady Coyotes to lose to Cibola: 25-13, 25-19 and 25-18. In a way, it’s like asking Hagerman’s football team to play in the same schedule with Goddard and Roswell High. It would be tough to compete and ask those athletes to do that. Bigger, stronger and faster is always going to beat great coaching — but nine times out of 10 — talent.
“Honestly, I thought we played pretty well today,” Roswell coach Heather Baca said. “We had some momentary lapses and got stuck in some rotations a couple of times. I thought we had a pretty good day.”
It’s not just the case with Roswell — for the last two years, Hobbs has made an early-round exit in the playoffs, as well as Portales and Artesia. This just isn’t for volleyball. Soccer has had the same fate, as well. The local rivalries and winning district championships are great but most teams display Blue and Red trophies. Maybe all of the area teams should think about getting together.
Lately, football seems to be the exception. Maybe the coaches from both Goddard and Roswell can get with Athletic Director Britt Cooper and come up with a plan to play a variety of non-conference games against elite competition from up north.
As sad as the chapter ends for this group of seniors, they can take solace in the fact that they made it this far. Four consecutive trips to the dance, some of the teams like Lovington and Carlsbad that have not been to state in volleyball the last two years would love to change places with the Lady Coyotes.
For Baca, she will drop the dual role of coach and mother. Her daughter, Jalen, will graduate this spring. Now she can concentrate on being a coach — and a mom at home. Baca stressed how proud she was of her team and wanted each of her players to know they deserved to be at state this year. Nobody gave Roswell anything, they earned it.
As for the future, Baca thinks the future is bright, with the players she has coming back and the new faces that will wear the red and black. With so many of the players playing multiple sports, Baca thinks there has to be an emphasis on the weight room and the speed training they do.
“Our kids need to take away from this season,” Coach Baca said, “number one, we deserve to be here, and we can compete at this level. We have to keep getting better.”
Hagerman Lady Bobcats played with a joy and spirit that allowed them to come within two points from upsetting Dulce. Hagerman won the first match, 23-1, and looked to be on their way. Dulce came back and won two games in a row, before Hagerman rallied and won the fourth game.
The Lady Bobcats would end up losing: 15-13, in the fifth set. According to Hagerman coach Monica Morales, she felt her team made too many errors and could have won the game.
“I think we gave up too many errors,” Morales said. “We let them get away from us, and we let them get too close to winning before we made a run at them.”
Hagerman will face Pecos at 8 a.m., at the Santa Ana Star Center today on Court 2.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.