Lady Leopards improve overall record to 12-0
Chants of “overrated” was all the Coronado High School volleyball team needed to stay composed and keep its unembellished mark alive.
As the Lady Leopards traveled to Jicarita Gymnasium to take on Peñasco High School for a District 5-2A match on Oct. 3, Coronado found itself faced with some heavy adversity after just one set of play.
A game total of 59 unforced errors (missed serves, net calls, hitting errors) surfaced immediately in game 1, resulting in a 19-25 defeat, which brought out the “overrated” chants from the Peñasco student section.
“The chants didn’t add to the motivation,” Coronado head coach Henry Gettler said about his team’s psyche after the first game. “But, it allowed us to focus on the importance of sound volleyball skills and the chants really refocused our girls and made for an intense match.”
After the uncharacteristic game 1, the Lady Leopards rebounded in a hurry by taking the next three games to win the match 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-23).
The win pushed Coronado’s record to 11-0 overall and 2-0 in District play.
The week didn’t end there, and Coronado returned home to host Santa Fe Waldorf on Oct. 5. The match had a result the Lady Leopards have been more familiar with this season.
Coronado made quick work of the Lady Wolves, winning 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-15) to improve its overall set win-loss record on the season to 34-5.
Gettler said Waldorf captain Nicoya Dant nearly single handedly kept the Lady Wolves in all three games up until about the 15-point mark, but Coronado’s serving and continuous presence at the net wore her down.
“Overall, it was a nice week of volleyball,” Gettler said. “We were pushed and had to show some resolve against Peñasco.”
Combined for the two matches, Raegan Cordova had a team-high 21 kills, Sulema Archuleta had 15, Jazmyn Delgado added 14 and Janessa Madrid had 13.
Libero Brianna Nieto had 34 digs and Hailey Martinez recorded 35 assists.
Coronado hosted Mora High School on Tuesday, but the result was not available by press time.
Next up, the Lady Leopards travel to Escalante High School Thursday (10/10), which marks the first contest Gettler will coach against his former team who he headed last season before being fired.
Dulce still atop class
One thing Coronado and Dulce High School had in common as of press time is both clubs were still undefeated.
The Lady Hawks (12-0) continued to roll in dominating fashion, most lately sweeping Navajo Pine at home 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-13) on Oct. 5.
Dulce has been nearly perfect, evident by its mark of winning 36 sets and losing just one, which came at the hands of District 1-2A opponent, Tse’ Yi’ Gai High School on Sept. 26.
The Lady Hawks sit atop the District at 4-0, ahead of second place Rehoboth Christian High School (6-7, 4-1).
Dulce held its No. 1 ranking in this week’s Class 2A New Mexico Overtime Sports Coaches poll, and Coronado came in at No. 5, once again.
The Lady Hawks’ next test will be Rehoboth, who Dulce host at 5 p.m., Friday.
Elkettes manage sweep in uncharacteristic form
Even when they weren’t astronomically close to their best, the Elkettes were still three sets better than the Taos High School volleyball team in the fashion of a sweep.
The Pojoaque Valley High School volleyball team’s 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-17) District 2-4A win over the Lady Tigers on Oct. 3 inside Ben Luján Gymnasium wasn’t exactly a display of brilliance, although the win did push Pojoaque (10-4) to 2-0 in District play before a week off from action.
Head coach Joe Rodriguez could easily see from the sidelines his team wasn’t firing on all cylinders, and part of the problem was a small list of injuries and illnesses plaguing the Elkettes since the team’s trip to the Portales Tournament on Sept. 27 and 28, but a majority of the out-of-character play came purely down to hustle and lack of energy, the coach said.
“We can’t play like that, we just can’t,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll have to reset and reevaluate and move forward.”
Pojoaque will continue its District slate at 6 p.m., Thursday (10/10) at Moriarty High School, and junior middle Leah Trujillo said the team needs to brush up defensively moving forward into the third District match and beyond.
Despite their mistakes against Taos, the Elkettes could have recorded a more convincing win if they were quicker to their spots and gaps defensively. A majority of the Lady Tigers points throughout the short night came on plays where Pojoaque was caught out of position or failed to hustle to balls slightly out of their reach.
“We need to work on covering the holes and not being lazy, if that makes sense,” Trujillo said. “On a lot of their points tonight, we just gave up on plays.”
Collectively, Pojoaque was still able to keep Taos out of system more times than not, and the Elkettes recorded just 43 digs on the night in part to that.
“A lot of that had to do with what was happening on their side,” Rodriguez said about the total digs. “But, we probably should of had 50 or 60; there were a lot of balls that hit the floor that shouldn’t have fallen. That comes from the will and the drive to not let the ball hit the floor, and we’ll have to keep working on that.”
The biggest eye-opener from the stat sheet on the night was also the area of the game that kept Rodriguez’s face full with a look of astonishment and shock.
He prides his teams on the ability to serve at high rates with little errors, but the Taos match looked nothing of the sort. The Elkettes recorded eight total service errors, and seven of those were combined from the hands of Mikayla Padilla and Taylor Quintana.
On the contrary, the Elkettes were still able to record 11 aces. Quintana led the team with four and Padilla had three, and those numbers mirrored the amount of service errors each player had as well.
“The focus wasn’t there and we can’t have that,” Rodriguez said. “When it did get over the net, we were serving to the right places, but on the flip side — without those errors — we probably make 20 aces.”
Taos trailed nearly the entire much and gained its first lead in a set all night when it recorded the first point of game 3. The Lady Tigers’ second lead came moments later when they went up 2-1, but Adrianna Rodriguez’s two aces helped Pojoaque move back up 5-2 to avoid letting Taos gather any further momentum and hopes of trying to push the match to a fourth set.
The Lady Tigers would stay close and tough, and that was evident to Pojoaque defensive specialist Kiara Martinez, who demanded that her team “separate ourselves right here,” after the Elkettes gave up two consecutive points to make the set score 12-10, still in Pojoaque’s favor.
A 5-2 run to follow helped Pojoaque do just that, and they ended the game and the match on a 5-0 run as well when Taos climbed back within 21-17.
“Even though we were down at times, we still had our teammates picking us up,” Trujillo said. “We still tried to keep the energy up and we were still being supportive of each other. When we made a mistake, no one got down on themselves, and that kept the momentum we had rolling.”
Offensively, Ashten Martinez and Espe Torres led the team with seven kills apiece, Alicia Quintana had six and Trujillo had four. Coach Rodriguez wasn’t happy about the balance of the offensive as compared to the team’s opening District win at Española Valley High School on Oct. 1.
But, perhaps the Elkettes couldn’t ask for a better time to have a week off to improve on balance and the many other aspects of the game that weren’t razor sharp against Taos.
“We all understand this wasn’t our best game,” Trujillo said. “We’re not going to blame anyone; we’ll just take this as a learning experience because this isn’t the way we normally play.”