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The Blue Trophy waits until next year

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. For the Goddard seniors, this season was about the Blue Trophy, but end it did. The finality of the Lady Rockets’ season came suddenly, abruptly in three straight sets as they lost to nemesis St. Pius X: 25-15, 25-19 and 25-13.

Goddard coach Dewayne Roberts is consoled by a parent after they lost to St. Pius X on Saturday. (Steve Notz Photo)

“They’re a good team,” Goddard Rockets coach Dewayne Roberts said. “We were right there with them, we had the lead the entire second set, we just came up short.”

The only thing that came faster than the loss was the tears that flowed from Goddard as the reality of what had happened to them registered. Their parents stood off to the side, just out of earshot of coach Dewayne Roberts as he told them how proud he was of them and their effort.

“I told the seniors ‘thank you,’” Roberts stated. “I told them it was a joy to coach them and for giving me and Goddard volleyball everything they had for the last four years.”

After that, Roberts stood in the corner of the Santa Ana Star Center and was by himself. At first, it was a trickle, and then it was a tsunami of tears as a season of hopes was gone. Last year’s loss was different, because Goddard had surprised themselves and a lot of people.

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This year, the expectations were championship or bust. For coach Roberts and the seniors on the team this year, this loss feels like a death in the family — because they know that this group will never be together again — day in and day out.

Finally, Roberts performed his media obligations to RDR Sports and could barely be heard. He talked about not having an answer and the second set being close and his team having a chance to break back, but it wasn’t their day from the beginning.

Maybe what was so hard on the team was they had been up in Albuquerque since Wednesday. Goddard was scheduled to play at 1:15 p.m. and the game didn’t begin until 2:45 p.m. Those are little things but little things mean a lot in a competitive environment. Especially with high school athletes.

Goddard’s Aliyah Valdez (7) and Sidney Bills (6) block a St. Pius shot Saturday in Rio Rancho. (Steve Notz Photo)

After Roberts had finished speaking, he turned to face the parents and his team: everyone began to clap their hands and give him a standing ovation for their appreciation of the job he has done the last two years. Moms and dads came up to him to shake his hand and offer encouragement to Roberts. All hugged him and said, “Thank you.”

Roberts told the returning players in his final talk to them, that he and the team would learn from this loss. That Goddard volleyball will build on this — he’s not satisfied and the girls are not satisfied.

Roberts has a belief in his rotations system, that it works and will work. He thinks they just came up short. He also feels like Goddard has to continually keep their eyes on the Blue Trophy, even though they fell short. He accepts the blame and is ready to start next season now.

Coming into next season, Roberts knows that he will have to replace some key players and is looking at changing his offensive system to fit the talent he has coming back. Roberts vows that teams will continue to see the fast-paced volleyball that Goddard is known for.

Roberts is counting on Sidney Bills and Lacie Schooley as seniors to lead the way. Roberts is especially proud of the way his two freshmen played: Sophia Valdez and Alissa Benavides. Roberts also mentioned Maribel Sanchez as well.

“I’m extremely proud of my team,” Roberts said. “Extremely proud of my girls and the way that they fought. Still, we have a lot to be proud of. Back-to-back district champs, 20-win season, a final and semifinal in the last two years. It’s a good group and I’m proud of them.”

For Roberts, this season ended in tears of sadness. Next season, he’s looking forward to shedding tears of joy after winning the Blue Trophy.

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