Home Sports Local Sports The No. 5 sports moment of 2019

The No. 5 sports moment of 2019

0
Goddard’s Aliyah Valdez (7) and Sidney Bills (6) block a St. Pius shot in the semifinal game at Rio Rancho Oct.15. (Steve Notz Photo)

Goddard’s second-year volleyball coach, Dewayne Roberts, has finally put his stamp on the Lady Rockets’ team. Roberts wants to play fast and run his system. Goddard was on cruise control for most of the season, as they went 20-5 overall and 4-2 in the district.

The Lady Rockets have dominated volleyball in 4A, and for the last two seasons have been to the finals and semifinal games. In Roberts’ first season, Goddard was five points away from winning the title, their first in several years.

Roberts has not shied away from “state title or bust” — and says that’s the standard for Goddard volleyball. Goddard ran into a little adversity in the middle of the season which cost them the regular-season championship. Goddard regrouped to win the district tournament title with a 3-2 victory over Portales at Ground Zero.

“It was a good year for Goddard volleyball,” Roberts said. “I’m proud of how we competed throughout the whole season. We overcame some adversity early on in the year, but the team never gave up.”

Goddard seemed to be hitting on all cylinders as they dispatched Los Alamos and Santa Teresa. It came down to a showdown with rival St. Pius X. It was one of those days for the Lady Rockets as they were defeated in straight sets.

Support Local Journalism
Subscribe to the Roswell Daily Record today.

Roberts believes his team will be strong this upcoming season. Goddard will have to replace all-state player Sophia Price, but returns another all-state player in Lacie Schooley. There are other players that are returning, which has Roberts hopeful of another return to the state.

“Winning the district championship on our home court was special,” Roberts said. “It was the high point of the year. For the team to be back-to-back district champs is something the girls can be proud of. I’m proud of our girls for competing day in and day out.”

In the two seasons under Roberts’ guidance, the Lady Rockets have been to the championship game and the semifinals. Roberts will once again have the goal: State title or bust.

With the talented Sidney Bills looking for a breakout senior season, and the continuing dominating performance of sophomore Sophia Valdez — along with another super sophomore in Alissa Benavides and other returners — look for Goddard to be right there in the thick of things, fighting for a district title and playing the best competition 4A volleyball has to offer.

For this reason, RDR Sports has selected Goddard volleyball as the No. 5 sports moment of the year.

The Blue Trophy waits until next year

From the Nov. 17 edition of the 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.

“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 hope was gone. Last year’s loss was different because Goddard had surprised themselves and a lot of

people.

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. 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.