New Mexico volleyball preview: Prep, Bloomfield, PV
By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
FRUITLAND, N.M., August 22, 2013
T his year the Navajo Prep volleyball team is promising to amaze you.
And although they had to work in some new players to fill the gaps of former standout Danielle Coleman and others, Navajo Prep coach Rainy Crisp said she has a loaded team.
"This year we're really going to turn some heads a little bit, we're really going to surprise some people," Crisp said. "I have some great talent."
Last year the Lady Eagles won the District 1-2A and wrapped up their season with a loss to Santa Rosa in the quarterfinals of the New Mexico Class 2A state volleyball tournament. But, like every year, this year's bunch has their eyes on a district title and a blue trophy.
The rest of the area volleyball teams are no different.
As the 2013 volleyball season kicks off with scrimmages throughout the state this weekend, local teams are preparing for another successful season.
Navajo Prep has made some changes in their roster, moving last year's setter Jasmine Coleman into a hitting position. They are searching for others to fill in some key spots.
Crisp said though the team is young they are experienced enough to advance deep into the state tournament this year.
"Last year we were competitive, but not where we wanted to be," she said. "With this group we'll get a little bit further."
Along with Danielle Coleman the team lost Desmarie Hanley, who transferred back to Monument Valley High School.
Keys returners are Matheney Wilson, Keona Leano, Shaunique Tom and LeShauntai Adams.
Crisp said with eight schools in their district, it will be another tough challenge to claim the district title. Regardless of what lies ahead she said she's looking forward to the season.
"It's doable for us," she said. "I couldn't be more excited and ready to start the season."
Other teams in Class 2A that should fare well include the Laguna-Acoma Lady Hawks and the Cuba Lady Rams.
Last season, the Lady Hawks clinched the District 3-2A title and defeated Hatch Valley 3-0 in the opening round of the state tournament before they were eliminated by eventual state champs Albuquerque Bosque in straight sets in the Class 2A semifinals. Laguna-Acoma head coach Bernadine Douma did not return messages at presstime.
Cuba, on the other hand, represented District 7-2A at the state tournament and they were bounced from the tournament after losing to Santa Fe Prep, 3-0.
Bloomfield, the reigning District 1-3A champs, have spent the last couple of weeks looking for their team's personality.
Having graduated six seniors, the Lady Bobcats are struggling to fill some positions.
Bloomfield head coach Tami Bekes said her team is "a working progress."
"Right now we're still trying to work together, trying to find that niche to gel together," she said. "If we can pass and serve, we can be just fine."
She said the team is still looking to fill in some keys spots at the hitter and setter positions.
Bekes said they are also working on their serves, an area they had trouble with last year.
Despite their continuous changes, Bekes said her girls are still looking to compete and defend their district title.
"The girls are trying to work hard and make that happen," she said. "We're looking forward to a good season … the girls are ready to go."
Shiprock is expected to challenge Bloomfield for this year's district title. The Lady Chiefs finished their season last year with a loss in the first round when they fell to Lovington 3-1 at the state tournament.
Across the way in District 5-3A, the Santa Fe Indian School Lady Braves will be in a rebuilding mode since the graduated six seniors last year. At the state tournament they defeated West Las Vegas 3-0 in the first round and lost in the quarterfinals to Portales, 3-2.
The District 1-4A Piedra Vista Lady Panthers are beginning a new era of volleyball this season as their roster lists no players over 6-feet tall.
The Panthers are known for their height and heavy arms but they will have to compensate this season.
Piedra Vista coach Ron Becker said the team has had to focus more on its defensive skills because they don't have the offense to carry them.
"It's so different than what we've done in the past, we're faster, have better ball control," he said. "It's something we haven't put much energy in in the past but we're putting a ton of energy in (it) now."
The Lady Panthers graduated four seniors but have a bulk of experienced players to lean on.
Becker said he's rotated in some new outsider and middle hitters. He added that those who hold those positions will have a greater responsibility.
"I'm a firm believer in that," he said. "That's what's going to carry us."
With hitter Nianna Alcon, setter Vanessa Harris and the backrow play of Kacey Varnell and Brianna Murphy, Becker said he's looking at a strong team.
"I'm looking forward to the season," Becker said. "I'm proud of my girls."
District rivals Farmington will also be a team to look out for as the Lady Scorps made it to the post season, losing to Los Alamos, 3-0, in the first round.