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Lady Card spikers back in Final Four

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Mora's season is done

By Dave Kavanaugh

For the second year in a row, the Robertson volleyball team (16-9) is one of the final four playing in Class 3A.

The Lady Cardinals scored a 3-1 win Thursday morning against Lovington, then surprised fifth-seeded St. Michael's 3-1 in an afternoon quarterfinal.

Next is a semifinal with another District 2-3A rival, Pojoaque Valley, set for 4 p.m. Friday at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center in Albuquerque.

The Elkettes pose a major obstacle to Robertson’s goal of reashing the state final for a second straight season. They are 20-2 and have yet to lose to a fellow Class 3A team this season. RHS arguably came closest to spoiling that record, pushing Pojoaque to the full five games in both regular-season meetings. But the Elkettes asserted their hegemony over District 2-3A in the Nov. 8 tournament final, sweeping the Lady Cardinals.Pojoaque went 5-1 in its own pool Wednesday and then swept Hope Christian 25-21, 25-23, 25-22, on Thursday evening.

On the opposite side of the bracket, No. 1 seed Ruidoso faces defending state champion Portales, which won in five over Hatch Valley. That semifinal is set for 2 p.m. Friday at the Johnson Center.

Friday’s winners advance to the championship match 11 a.m. Saturday.

Whatever happens this weekend, it’s already been another strong run for Robertson. The Lady Cards split with top seed Ruidoso and swept Hope Christian and Cuba in going 5-1 in pool play on Wednesday morning.

That showing wasn’t quite enough to win the pool — the Warriors edged the Lady Cards by a single point to earn the pool victory and its reward, a first-round bye — but Robertson endured. The Lady Cards won a tight 25-22 game one against Lovington before the Wildcats evened the match with a 25-18 win in game two. Robertson finished strong, taking the next two 25-19 and 25-20.

That set up a quarterfinal meeting with old friend St. Mike’s. In two regular-season encounters, the Lady Horsemen and their 6-4 middle hitter had confounded Robertson, recording two sweeps. RHS survived a dramatic five-set battle with St. Mike’s in the semifinal of the district tournament on Nov. 7, an upset that sent the Lady Cards to the final with Pojo.

As in the morning match vs. Lovington, Robertson struck first, a 25-17 win, but gave up a 25-15 romp in the second game. Again, however, the Lady Cards closed with a flourish, rolling the Lady Horsemen 25-13 and 25-20 for the match victory.

Last season, Robertson and coach Raynee Trujillo began play largely overlooked by the rest of the state. Their record got them into the state tournament, and that’s when the Lady Cards came alive, rolling past Sandia Prep, Hope Christian and Hatch Valley. They made it clear to the title match before falling in four to a big, strong, experienced Portales squad.

Carrying high expectations this year, RHS had a solid but not outstanding regular season. The team appeared to miss the quiet defensive prowess of Alyssa Abreu and Ruthie Trujillo, the lone senior losses in the offseason. With the defense still a work in progress, the team’s talented offense was limited. Initial passes and serve receives went awry, and potent attacks didn’t get established.

But the passing game and overall defense has improved down the stretch, allowing the offense to get into a rhythm.

The team includes setter Daniella Montoya, hitters Julie Franken and Kassandra Tapia on the outside and Brooke Knezevich and Marin Schweigert in the middle. Marka Garcia hits as well, plays back row and is a skilled server. Jessica Encinias and Karley Jo Armijo specialize in defense. Brianna Bourbon, Synne Jorgenson-Livang, Makani Nakasone and Miranda Garcia round out the roster.

Coach Trujillo is assisted by Steve and Frances Montoya and Rosie Lanphere.

Eagles down Rangerettes

The Mora Rangerettes got bumped from the Class 2A state volleyball tournament on Thursday evening, courtesy of a straight-sets loss to mighty Navajo Prep.

Navajo Prep won 25-18, 25-14, 25-16, to advance to the tourney semifinals. The team will play Estancia (a winner over Clayton) at noon Friday. On the other side of the bracket, Texico was to play Mesilla Valley (which beat Rehoboth).

Mora finished 1-5 in Wednesday pool play to get saddled with a tough quarterfinal seed — pitting the Rangerettes against a Navajo Prep team that went 15-6 and a perfect 7-0 in District 2-2A.

It’s the second year in a row the Eagles have eliminated the Rangerettes in the quarters.

The Rangerettes and Leslie Vigil went 17-5 overall and 6-0 in District 4-2A, again coasting to a district title. The ride included repeat victories in the Northern Rio Grande and Cimarron tournaments. But again, the team struggled at state, going one match and out in bracket play.

Mora’s lineup this year included Angelica Abeyta, Santana Aragon, Andrea Archuleta, Devon Coffey, Elena Duran, Amanda Padilla, Brandy Romero, Angel Valencia and Jaynae Vigil. Only Padilla, a defensive specialist, is listed as a senior, leaving the team well-stocked for 2009.

Coach Vigil is assisted by Jacquelyn Sanchez. Managers include Mattie Martinez, Melanie Romo and Taylor Vigil.