Serving the High Plains

Slew of starters return for Lady Rattlers

Because she has six seniors and nine returning starters, Tucumcari’s volleyball coach holds high hopes for the upcoming season, starting with a home match starting at 1 p.m. Saturday against Fort Sumner.

But coach Dana Benavidez, in her eighth season, acknowledged she’s a bit concerned about filling one position: libero.

The Lady Rattlers lost Alexus Lafferty at the position to graduation. Lafferty was a four-year starter and multiyear all-district player. Her jump-serves put defenders on their heels, and her quick reflexes on defense prevented many points by the opposition.

“Losing a libero like Alexus is going to be tough,” Benavidez said. “We’re going to have to really work on stepping up our defense. But we’ve been working on that all summer and doing pretty well.”

Benavidez said she had a couple of players trying out for the position but probably won’t settle on a starter until the opener.

The Lady Rattlers had an encouraging season in summer ball, including a strong finish at a tournament in Moriarty where they beat the host team and Tularosa and split with Roswell.

Leading the Lady Rattlers will be the Benavidez sisters. Caylee, a junior, led the team in kills and assists last season and earned all-state honors in Class 3A. Cambree was second on the squad last season in kills despite being just an eighth-grader.

Also returning are senior Haisley Huffman (who was third in kills), sophomore Kyla Lopez, junior July Lafferty, senior Kirksey Smith, senior Kylie’Ann Rincones, senior Alexis Ramirez, senior Amaya Roybal and senior Harley McKinney.

The Lady Rattlers finished with a 16-9 overall record last year and finished second in its district with a 4-2 mark. Tucumcari qualified for the Class 3A tournament but was eliminated by Bosque and Santa Fe Indian.

When district play begins in October, Benavidez said she expects Dexter to be a contender.

“Dexter is a little bit like us,” she said. “They rebuilt last year. So they have some upperclassmen coming up now that are strong for them. So I think Dexter is going to be our strongest competition.”

Benavidez said defending district champion Ruidoso and New Mexico Military Institute each lost key seniors and might be down this season.

Other teams

Logan opens its season at its Lady Longhorn Volleyball Tournament on Aug. 24-26, which includes defending champion Tucumcari as a participant.

The Lady Longhorns finished with an 18-9 overall record last season and finished second only to Melrose in district play with a 9-2 mark.

Glynna Strand’s team qualified for the Class 1A playoffs and were eliminated by Legacy Academy in the consolation round.

San Jon opens its season with a home match Saturday afternoon against Roy-Mosquero.

The Lady Coyotes, using many young and inexperienced players, finished with a 3-19 record overall last season and 1-10 in district.

Bobby Kandel, a former Logan assistant coach, will lead the San Jon team this year.

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