Coach suspended; Lady Jaguars won't play Los Lunas

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Valencia High volleyball coach Karen Vanessa Chavez was suspended for Thursday's match against Grants, and her team will forfeit next week's much-anticipated regular-season finale against Los Lunas High.

The Jaguars, who beat Grants 3-1 with junior varsity coach Dave Linthicum filling in for Chavez, are set to play a 6:30 p.m. match Tuesday at Belen. But that will be their final regular-season match, because of Thursday's forfeit, and the Jaguars will place second in the District 6-4A standings with at least two district losses.

The Valencia C-team and junior varsity squads will host Los Lunas on Thursday, but the varsity match won't be played.

Los Lunas High (17-1, 8-0) clinches first place in the district for the third consecutive season.

Los Lunas Schools Athletic Director Wilson Holland said Chavez was suspended for one game by the school district, and not by the New Mexico Activities Association. She will return to the team bench for the Belen match.

"It's frustrating and disappointing," said Holland regarding the forfeit. "We wanted the match to be played, because it's healthy for the community. We will put safeguards in place to make sure this doesn't happen again."

The violation seems to stem from a misunderstanding regarding a Sept. 28 trip to West Mesa. Knowing her team was over its 20-match limit for the season's schedule, Chavez emailed Holland and asked if the match should be cancelled, even if a fine needed to be paid.

Holland directed Chavez not to cancel any varsity matches.

Chavez ended up using junior varsity players in the third match of that day, but she was later told the Jaguars would need to forfeit the final match of the regular season, because her team was over the limit.

She said she was issued a letter of reprimand by Holland.

"I have never been reprimanded in writing in 19 years of coaching," she said.

Holland said little about Chavez's disciplinary action, other than to say it's a personnel matter, although he did add that "all employes must be held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof."

The athletic director said one of the safeguards will involve more understanding of how many matches each team plays at tournaments. The Jaguars played two matches at the season-opening Belen Invite, but played three matches at a Moriarty tournament.

Valencia will be the No. 2 seed for the District 6-4A tournament, set for the week of Nov. 5-10.


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