Thirteen middle school student-athletes from Sena, Bernal, Ribera, Gonzales Ranch, Curuco, Villanueva, San Jose and Ancon did what many thought was unthinkable this past volleyball season — going undefeated — winning 14 consecutive games for the Valley Middle School Roadrunners.
The undefeated season is believed to be the first in girls’ sports history at Valley Middle School. In fact, it is also believed it is the first ever sport in the 41-year history of the school to go undefeated since a Marvin Madrid-led team went undefeated in 1980. That team, basketball, was coached by Albert I. Gonzales.
“It is definitely the first team that has gone undefeated since I’ve been here,” said longtime physical education instructor and coach Mike Marrujo. “I’ve been here 21 years. This team just played well together.”
What makes this accomplishment special may very well be that when people talk about Valley athletics, usually the talk is about boys’ basketball, which as many people across the entire northeastern part of the state know, has produced some of the finest players around.
“This is special to all of us,” said Jetta Rubio, the smallest of all her teammates at 3-11. “This is my first year in volleyball and to go undefeated is just special.”
Fourteen games in a row may seem like a small step to some, but for these young ladies, it’s a gigantic step in what could very well be a special journey.
“Maybe we can all get scholarships one day,” says Deborah Gonzales.
“It was a fun and exciting experience this season,” says Sheray Hill.
Marissa Bishop says that athletics wasn’t necessarily the priority over the last three months.
“Even though we would get home late every night, we would all get up and come to school and do our best.
We did our homework,” said Bishop.
Valley principal Becky Gallegos concurred.
“If they would not meet the criteria, they wouldn’t play,” said Gallegos. “We are all so proud of these girls and this school.”
Behind good teams are great coaches, says Adrianna Nailor.
“Our coaches gave us inspiration every day,” says Nailor.
Teammate Briana Gutierrez agreed.
“We had good communication on the court,” said Briana Gutierrez. “We would call for the ball and get it over the net with three hits.”
Teamwork and chemistry are also vital ingredients on a winning team.
“We worked together as a team,” said Gutierrez.
It’s also easier when you love the game you play.
“We all like volleyball,” said Faith Gonzales. “Volleyball is an active sport and a lot of fun. In the scale of 1-10, I say volleyball is a 10.”
Megan Sandoval said that the team was constantly reminded about the importance of athletics.
“The principal was always telling us whether we win or lose, we carry Roadrunner pride with us,” said Sandoval.
Mari Romero said she still can’t believe the season they had. “I knew we were going to be good, but to go undefeated is just awesome,” said Romero.
Maricela Lopez said that parents and other well wishers served as an inspiration as well.
“When people come out to watch us it encouraged us,” said Lopez. “I want to thank everyone that supported us.”
Jayde Rubio said that when they began practice a few months, she knew her team was going to be good, but not have a perfect season.
“After our first win, I kind of thought we had a chance to be real good,” said Rubio.
Kayla Gallegos summed it up in one word—pride.
“I’m proud of everyone, the players, the coaches, the teachers, the entire school. But we’re not just good in sports, we’re good in academics too,” said Gallegos.
When asked what their goals were, answers of oceanography, forensic scientist, teaching, doctor, nurse and animal cop filled the air.
“These kids have a lot of natural talent. They came to practice every day with a good attitude. I hope that this year’s success can carry over to other sports and to future teams,” said head coach Marina Salazar.
Assistant coach Sara Cordova was also very joyous.
“These girls are great. They gave everything they had,” said Cordova.