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Capitan netters sweep rivals

By Todd Fuqua

Photo by Todd Fuqua Carrizozo Grizzlies Kaitlin (5) and Kelsie Guevara (7) attempt to block a shot by Capitan hitter Dominique Valadez, Aug. 31, at Cummins Gym in Capitan.

CAPITAN – For both volleyball teams on Aug. 31, the result was very much the same as in their season openers.

Capitan’s girls won the initial matchup with Lincoln County rival Carrizozo, defeating the Grizzlies in three games. This came after the Tigers beat Hagerman in their season opener with a sweep.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Capitan Tiger Kara Vallance hits the ball over the net, Aug. 31, during her team’s win over Carrizozo at Cummins Gym.

For Carrizozo, it was their second-straight loss in three to start the season.

“That first game, the girls did very well,” said Carrizozo coach Whitney Whittaker. “In the second game, it kind of got in their heads and it was over after that.”

Things weren’t as easy for Capitan (2-0) as the sweep might indicate. The final frame saw the Tigers with a match point serve at 24-20, but Carrizozo (0-2) proved resilient in a long volley that eventually ended in a Capitan error.

On the ensuing serve, however, Tiger Dominique Valadez came up with the big kill to end it.

Game two was the widest scoring margin at 25-11, but Allen felt that frame was when her team struggled the most.

“Before the match, I put some things on the board I wanted to work on next week, but they thought they had to do it in this match, so I fried their minds before anything happened,” said Capitan coach Pam Allen. “I thought I had it all straightened out, but the Capitan Tigers pulled it out and I’m very proud of them.”

Photo by Todd Fuqua Capitan’s Annie Skeen serves, Aug. 31, during her team’s Lincoln County rivalry match against Carrizozo at Capitan’s Cummins Gym.

It didn’t help the Tigers that senior outside hitter Dakota Hazen was on the sideline with a turned ankle she suffered while playing a pickup game earlier in the week.

“Volleyball is a peculiar sport, because kids get so accustomed to who they play beside,” Allen said. “When that lineup isn’t in place, it makes them uncomfortable.”

Whittaker felt Thursday’s match represented still more improvement for her team, particularly from the start of practice at the beginning of August.

“If you could see where they started to where they are now, they have actually improved quite a bit,” Whittaker said. “I’m very proud of them, and that third game showed.

“We’re working a lot of defense. I have tall kids, they just don’t know quite where to go yet,” she added. “Once they get that rhythm, I’ll have two middle blockers.”

Carrizozo has a few more chances to work on that defense and blocking this coming week before making an appearance at the Cloudcroft Mountain Top tournament.

Capitan will be at that tournament as well, but won’t be on the court competitively again until Sept. 12 with a home match against Cloudcroft.

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