By Ron Warnick
QCS Senior Writer 

Senior boosts Lady Rattlers over Dexter


October 26, 2022

Ron Warnick

Tucumcari's Cambree Benavidez spikes the ball against Dexter blocker Senaida Salazar during a district match Oct. 18 at the Snake Pit. Benavidez made a match-high seven kills during the Lady Rattlers' victory.

A Tucumcari senior made one heck of a varsity debut during the Lady Rattlers' 25-15, 25-7, 25-12 district victory at home last week against Dexter.

Sierra Valverde came off the bench during the second set with Tucumcari nursing a 6-4 lead. She then served 18 straight times, with seven aces and no service errors, against a flustered Lady Demons squad.

By the time she was lifted for a substitute with her team leading 23-5, she received a big ovation from the crowd in the Snake Pit.

Valverde also served five straight points, including an ace, during the third set. Her final stat line was 22 service points, eight aces and only one serving error.

"It was amazing," Tucumcari coach Dana Benavidez said of Valverde. "She's a senior, and she served really well. It was her first varsity game, and we're really proud of her. She's a very hard worker, a very dedicated athlete. She earned her way up to the varsity team and did really well."

Valverde was part of a strong serving performance by Tucumcari, which totaled 18 aces. Alexus Lafferty made three of her four aces during the first set to ignite her team a 6-0 lead that would stand up.

Cambree Benavidez led a dominating performance by the Lady Rattlers with a match-high seven kills. Caylee Benavidez and Haisley Huffman each added five kills apiece.

Tucumcari held a 27-6 advantage in kills. A total of 10 Lady Rattlers notched kills during the match.

At one point, the Lady Rattlers dug out a ball deep in the back of the gym that seemed destined for a Dexter kill. They kept it alive, including tracking the ball as it bounced off support beams in the ceiling, and managed to get it back over the net.

"We hustled really well, got big digs and blocked really well tonight," coach Benavidez said. "Our hitters really came on, too."

Dexter fell to 2-13 and 0-2 in district play.

NMMI 3, Tucumcari 1

The Lady Rattlers, hampered by an illness to a key player, lost Thursday by a 10-25, 25-21, 23-25, 21-25 score to New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell, damaging Tucumcari's chances for a second straight district title.

Coach Benavidez said one of her top hitters, Huffman, was out sick. As a result, her team struggled with its adjusted rotation.

"Volleyball is lot about routines, and it's hard to change before a game with no practice," she said. "We were out of sync and struggled to get going offensively."

Tucumcari fell to 13-7 overall and 1-2 in district play. The Lady Rattlers will need to run the table on the rest of their district schedule, plus receive help from other teams, to force a first-place tie. Ruidoso currently leads the district standings.

Last season, the Lady Rattlers won their first district championship in more than 40 years.

NMMI improved to 8-8 overall and 1-1 in district play.


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