Home Sports Local Sports Goddard wins one for the ages

Goddard wins one for the ages

The 1989 Class 3A state champion Goddard Rockets volleyball team. Top row, from left, Kathleen McLaren (15); Jennifer Owens (9); Juilet McGuire (1); Kerry Graves (14); Shandel Burke (5); Kelly Damron (7); and Jennifer Pemberton (11). Bottom row, from left, Marla Lowery (6); Brandi Burns (2); head coach Judy Smyth; Kim Featherstone (10); and Jenna Chancey (3). Not pictured is Heather Fields (8); assistant Sonya Milota; and assistant coaches Debbie Beyhan and Hayden Hill. (Submitted Photo)

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Sports Editor’s note: Covering this story and writing about the young ladies that helped make the Goddard volleyball team into the Team of the Decade in the 1980s was more than we could fit in one edition, this will be the final story in a multi-part series.

With an assist from coach Judy Smyth and her recollections of the games and events that made things meaningful to her and the help of past editions of the RDR Sports pages, we tried to reconstruct the time and the games for you, the fans.

Today, we look at the last of coach Smyth’s championships, the 1989 season, and the championship.

The beginning of the ‘89 season didn’t look like it was going to be good for the Lady Rockets. Goddard seemed unable to shake district nemesis, Portales, losing to them four times during the regular season and in the district tournament. Because of the loss to Portales in the district, Goddard had to face St. Michael’s at Roswell’s Coyote Den in the pre-playoff match. Goddard won that match and beat a strong Ruidoso team in a two and a half hour state quarterfinal match.

In the semifinals, Goddard defeated Bloomfield in straight sets to face Portales in the finals. Goddard would play at home with a standing-room-only crowd for the second year in a row.

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The championship was give and take with superior defense by both teams. There was pin-point serving and the match lasted three hours. Goddard took the first set, 15-5, but the Ramettes’ taller lineup took games two and three by a score of 9-15 and 12-15. The Ramettes would find themselves at match point 11-14 in Game 4; Smyth called a timeout.

The Rockets were down three points and Portales had the serve. Goddard would need six points to win. Coach Judy Smyth told assistant coach Hayden Hill, “I don’t care how this game ends up, you make sure these kids line up and shake hands. Do you understand me?” Hill said, “Yes, ma’am.” Smyth was kind of thinking the same thing, that winning was going to be an uphill battle.

“I told the kids, if we were going to go down, we’d go down fighting,” Smyth said. “I said play each point like it was the first one of the match, and the next thing I knew, we were tied and then in a position to win.”

Goddard’s 16-14 win forced a fifth game. The Lady Rockets fell behind 3-7, but they never gave up and clawed their way back to tie the game at 11-all, and won it and their fifth title with a 15-11 victory.

Smyth said that winning the ‘89 title was the result of teamwork, conditioning, a desire to win, and the help of freshman and junior varsity coaches Debbie Beyhan and Hayden Hill.

“We seemed to peak just as the tournament opened,” Smyth said. “Every player came forward to play their best volleyball.”

With that win, Goddard was considered the Team of the Decade winning six titles in the ‘80s (1980, ‘82, ‘84, ‘86, ‘87 and ‘89).

The ‘89 team was special to Smyth because a majority of the Goddard players were chosen to play in the North-South All-Star game and Smyth was selected as coach. “It surprised me because of where we had gotten,” Smyth said.

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

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