By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Despite first-game jitters and a second-set rally by Fort Sumner, the Lady Rattlers won their volleyball season opener Tuesday night, 3-1, at the Snake Pit.
“We had a few mental mistakes, but the girls played with a lot of energy and heart,” said Dana Benavidez, Lady Rattlers head coach.
Benavidez said the Lady Rattlers grew anxious in the second set and gave the Lady Vixens an opening.
The Lady Rattlers were leading the second set, 24-22, when a well-placed kill by Lady Vixen Claudia Torres and five Lady Rattlers errors led to a 28-26 win for Fort Sumner.
“Our serves went into the net because we were nervous,” said Jasmine Jones, Lady Rattlers middle blocker.
Jones had three multi-point serves during the four sets.
“We need to focus when we are on the line to serve,” Jones said. “Successful serves or service errors can set the tone of the game.”
Missed assignments on defense hurt the Lady Rattlers in the second and third sets. The Lady Vixens were able to find holes for kills and earned points from bad passes by the Lady Rattlers trying to return the serve.
“The girls didn’t execute the fundamentals,” Benavidez said. “The errors cost us points but the girls managed to recover.”
“If you’re not paying attention, you can give a team the chance to get back in the match,” said Tucumcari’s Ryanne Lopez.
Lopez plays opposite of the setter in the rotation. She will set the ball for the hitters when the setter is unavailable.
Lopez said the team was distracted and that created gaps in the defense. “The team needs to be aware of what is going on at all times,” Lopez said.
The Lady Rattlers opened up a double-digit lead in the final set with kills from Kayla Cherry, Alyssa Martinez and Jones.
“I tipped a few balls over the net for points but overall I wasn’t happy with my performance at the net,” Lopez said. “I need to be more aggressive and look for the kill.”
Benavidez said the win helped her see the girls’ strengths and the areas they need to work on before Thursday’s game against Melrose.
Melrose beat Fort Sumner in the 2015 2A state volleyball championship game.
“I’m expecting a tough game from such a high-caliber team,” Benavidez said. “After seeing the energy these girls had out on the court (Tuesday) night, I’m confident they will be ready to play.”
Tucumcari 25 26 25 25
Fort Sumner 15 28 18 16
Next: The Lady Rattlers play at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against Melrose at the Snake Pit.
(Junior Varsity begins at 5:30 p.m.).