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RHS spikers sharp again

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Second place, 2009 Zia Classic, Roswell.

Second place, 2009 Tournament of Champions, Santa Fe.

Make room for those trophies in the case of the Robertson High volleyball team, which already has a couple of pretty ones, both in the school color of red, no less, on display.

Those would be the runner-up trophies for the 2007 and ‘08 Class 3A state tournaments.

A couple years ago, Robertson was a dark horse within its own district. But with a No. 1 ranking (New Mexico High School Coaches Association) already to its credit this season, this team is hardly a secret these days.

Coach Raynee Gerhart and her staff, which includes Frances Montoya, Steve Montoya and Rosie Lanphere, have brought stability and continuity in addition to Xs and Os.

Senior setter Daniella Montoya — one of two RHS players, along with hitter Jazmine Harge, to be recognized on the Tournament of Champions all-tourney team — runs the offense.

One of the most dependable setters in the state, Montoya can deliver the ball to any of a number of places, provided she gets a good first pass.

 Harge’s addition to the lineup this season has been a shot in the arm for the offense. The senior hitter can connect with strength and accuracy across the front line. She has been key to filling the void left by the departure of Julie Franken, one of Robertson’s big guns of recent years.

Brooke Knezevich and Kassandra Tapia are an estimable one-two punch on the outside, and both — like Montoya and several teammates — have two deep state tournament runs on their resumés. Knezevich’s kills, which have typically come in streaks, can spark the team like none other, and she is arguably the best athlete on the roster. Tapia may well be its most improved player; a power hitter, she has looked more accurate and effective in this, her junior campaign.

Makani Nakasone, a junior who has starred at the junior varsity level, is a capable attacker as well and lends size and power to the rotation.

Marka Garcia, junior, and Jessica Encinias, senior, will be counted on for versatility, lending help to the attack while filling key roles on defense. Both are solid athletes.

Junior Brianna Bourbon and senior Molly Salman round out the defense, playing at libero and defensive specialist, respectively.

Junior Chrissy Sedillo and senior Olivia Thomas provide even more depth and firepower to a lineup that has plenty.