Lady Jaguars win their first two district volleyball matches

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Valencia continued to look very strong in the early portion of the 6-4A volleyball slate, downing Gallup on the road and Miyamura at home in straight sets.

Mike Stearns-News-Bulletin photo: Valencia High senior Julia Herrera sends the ball away in Thursday’s District 6-4A match against Miyamura. The Lady Jaguars won their first two 6-4A matches this week and are 10-2 overall.

The Jags are 2-0 in district and 10-2 overall heading into Tuesday’s match at Grants (6-5, 1-1).

“We played them in the Belen tournament and played really well against them,” said coach Karen Chavez, regarding Grants.

Valencia 3, Miyamura 0

It was only close midway through the first set on Thursday night in the Valencia gym.

A Jaguar timeout seemed to work wonders, as the Jags went on a 9-0 tear to move a three-point game to 23-11. Dayanna Iturralde served the eight points in the run and credited stringent practice and preparation for her successful service run.

“Just focusing in practice, and getting the punishments for missing a serve,” said a shy Iturralde, belying her aggressive court style. “I just want to try my best.”

Aizlinn Gutierrez got the final two kills to give the Jags the 25-13 first-set win.

It wasn’t close from that point. Miyamura spent a game and a half not getting a single service point.

Valencia won the second set 25-4 with Brenda Baeza taking a service run that spanned 10 points and included four aces.

It wasn’t until Valencia had built an 11-3 lead in the third set that Miyamura finally got some points while holding serve.

The Patriots closed the gap to 17-11 and could get no closer than 20-13.

Peyton Linthicum scored the match point that gave Valencia the 25-16 third set win.

“No match is easy. Every match takes preparation and mental toughness to pull it off,” said Chavez of her team’s dominating court presence.

“We persevered and kept our level of play as intense as possible. Our blocking at the net has gone consistently well,” the Jag coach concluded.

The Jags were particularly focused in the second set. An eight-point run while Alexis Montaño was serving built the Jags’ lead to 8-1. Baeza ran the score from 10-3 to 20-3. Aries Marquez closed out the set with four straight service points.

Baeza also credited learned concentration for her 10-point effort.

“It was pretty much mental, because I missed one early. I knew that I had to get it,” the junior team captain said.

Baeza was very satisfied with the four aces.

“Just placement I guess,” said Baeza. “Our team is looking very good and we are coming together as one. We are talking a lot more.”

Iturralde also noted the team chemistry, which seems more complete than in seasons past.

“We are like a family. We are all sisters and get along on and off the court. It is an amazing thing,” Iturralde said.

Valencia 3, Gallup 0

On Tuesday, the Jaguars captured the district opener for the both teams in a concise and overwhelming fashion.

Valencia swept the host Bengals in straight sets. The Jags won the opening set 25-18 and completely dominated the second, 25-8.

The Jags closed it out with a third set win, 25-19.

“We came out strong for our first district match. Gallup had a very strong program and we are still improving,” said Chavez.

The Valencia coaching staff was impressed with Brenda Baeza’s performance noting that she had the highest percentage of kills in the match and excelled at the serve.


-- Email the author at mstearns@news-bulletin.com.