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Area spikers make runs at state

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By Dave Kavanaugh

So much for pre-tournament seeding.


Saddled with the 12 seed on Selection Saturday Nov. 6, West Las Vegas reached the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state volleyball tournament over the weekend. West led a solid contingent of local area schools — WLV, Robertson, Mora, Pecos — in the big event.


The Lady Dons pushed Portales — the state’s third-ranked team going into the weekend — to the fourth set before falling. Scores were 19-25, 25-21, 25-9, 25-18 in favor of the Lady Rams, who’d end up in Saturday’s final with Pojoaque.


It marked a bittersweet end to Jacquelyn Sanchez’s first season as West’s head coach, as well as the last in a Lady Dons uniform for outgoing seniors Angel Gallegos, Vanessa Lucero, Megan Martinez, Miranda Martinez, Briana Montaño, Chavela Montoya and Jessica Sandoval.


West opened pool play Thursday morning with a 2-0 upset of No. 4 ranked Shiprock and a 2-0 loss to former district foe St. Michael’s. That elevated the Lady Dons to the runner-up in Pool D and a first-round encounter with another former district rival — Santa Fe Indian School.


With the Lady Braves still reeling from the midseason loss of key starter Jenine Coriz, they fell in three sets at the hands of the Lady Dons, 25-20, 25-23, 25-19.


That set up a quarterfinal match with Portales, the 2007 state champ and a state runner-up in ‘09.


Robertson, led by first-year coach Mary Bustos, made its own run over the weekend.


The Lady Cardinals, who’d surprised WLV in the district final, secured the No. 9 seed on Selection Saturday. The seeding put the Lady Cards in pool play with top-ranked Pojoaque and No. 8 Silver on Thursday morning. RHS split with Silver and lost twice to Pojoaque and finished third in Pool A by virtue of points.


Then in the first round of bracket play, Robertson extended Lovington to the full five sets before falling. Scores were 20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 15-11 in favor of the Wildcat spikers.


That was the last prep volleyball match for Lady Card veterans Marka Garcia, Kassandra Tapia, Crissy Sedillo, Brianna Bourbon and Eliana Herrera.


Meanwhile, in the Class 2A volleyball tournament, the season ended in the first round of bracket play for both Pecos and Mora, which finished as the No. 2 and No. 3 teams, respectively, in District 2-2A.


Mora’s Rangerettes, veterans of state tourney play under head coach Leslie Vigil, made a nice run in Thursday morning’s pool play. The team entered as the No. 11 seed and matched up with No. 3 Rehoboth and No. 6 Peñasco, the 2-2A district champ, but managed the second-best performance in that pool.


But the good times for the Rangerettes were short-lived. Dulce won a four-set opening-round contest in which each game was decided by four points or less. Dulce took game one 25-23 before Mora got even with a 28-26 win in game two. But the Hawks prevailed in games three and four 25-22 and 25-21 to close the match.


Young this fall, Mora is expected to keep its team intact for next season.


Pecos, the No. 10 team in 2A, found itself in pool play with No. 2 Tularosa and No. 7 Eunice, then matched up with No. 5 Estancia in the first round of bracket play.


Estancia asserted itself early with 25-19 and 25-17 victories the first two sets. The Lady Panthers scratched back and nearly came up with the stay-alive victory in game three but lost 25-23.


Pecos will lose seniors Brianna Gallegos, Amber Rougemont, Pamela Spiess, Ashlie Vigil and the multisport standout Yeshemabet Turner to graduation.


Despite their success against Mora and Pecos, neither Dulce nor Estancia survived the next round. Defending champion Texico ended up grabbing another state title — a remarkable fifth in a row for the Wolverines — beating Tularosa for the second straight year in a final featuring the top-ranked teams in 2A.