By Eric Butler: PNT Correspondent
It’s volleyball season once again for small schools in eastern New Mexico and local squads will no doubt answer the bell, and they all have reason for optimism.
For Elida, a team that lost to Fort Sumner four times, that distance may have been breached somewhat by the Vixens’ injuries and by the fact that the Lady Tigers lost only one regular, Kodi Armitage, to graduation. This season, seniors Alicia Cross-Smith and Lindsey Ward figure to lead the Elida hitting attack.
At Floyd, second-year coach Tandee Delk has a crop of talented freshmen moving into the varsity mix as well as sophomore transfer Kelsey Gray from Portales. All of this should give Delk plenty of options to go with established hitters such as junior middle blockers Rachel Wilhite and Brook Reed.
Dora coach Myra Skinner, beginning her fourth season, used three freshmen — Tearney O’Connor, Kendra Merrick and Audra Pinkston — as starters a year ago and is hoping that experience will help the Lady Coyotes this time around.
“They’re working harder than I’ve ever seen them work before,” Skinner said. “I just hope that all of it pays off with some wins so the girls know it leads to something.”
Dora Lady Coyotes
2005 record: n/a, no playoffs
Key players: Tearney O’Connor, So., MB-OH, 5-9; Kendra Merrick,So., OH-S, 5-8; Audra Pinkston, So., OH-S, 5-6; Tori Varnell, Fr., Lib-DS, 5-4; Julissa Melendez, Jr., LIB, 5-3; Cassie Skelley, Sr., DS, 5-4.
According to coach Myra Skinner…
Best high school team coached against: Fort Sumner, 2004 — “Tatum was really good last year, but we never got to play them. I would have liked to see them play Fort Sumner.”
Team considered the biggest rival biggest rival: Elida — “There’s a lot of friendships, though, with them. Sometimes when you think of the word ‘rival,’ you think of players that don’t like each other. I don’t think that really exists with these kids.”
Elida Lady Tigers
2005 record: 10-10, reached state quarterfinals
Key players: Alicia Cross-Smith, Sr., OH, 5-6; Lindsey Ward, Sr., MB-S, 5-7; Janice Taylor, Jr., OH, 5-8; Lindsey Smith, So., S.
According to coach Darrell Chenault…
Team’s vocal leader: Ward
Team’s silent leader: Taylor — “We’ve got a lot of girls who are passionate about basketball; she’s passionate about volleyball.”
Best high school team coached against: St. Pius (whom Elida beat in pool play at the 2003 Clovis tournament)
Most amusing player in coaching experience: Tammy Dixon, 2003 — “She was extremely hard-working, but loved to have fun and pull pranks.”
Team considered the biggest rival: Fort Sumner — “In basketball, it’s Dora. In volleyball, it’s Fort Sumner.”
Floyd Lady Broncos
2005 record: 9-11, no playoffs
Key players: Blair Jaramillo, Sr., S, 5-5; Alexis Benoit, Jr., DS, 5-5; Rachel Wilhite, Jr., MB, 5-11; Brook Reed, Jr., MB, 5-9; Kelsey Gray, So., OH-DS, 5-8.
According to coach Tandee Delk…
Team’s vocal leader: Benoit
Team’s silent leader: Jaramillo
Best high school team coached against: Animas, 2000 (Delk’s Melrose team lost to the Panthers in the Class 1A state championship).
Most amusing player in coaching experience: Samantha Dodd, Melrose, 2000 — “She was just flat-out funny.”
Team considered the biggest rival: Fort Sumner