By Tony A. Archuleta
The Hot Springs varsity volleyball 2014 season, Part II, was scheduled to kick off Tuesday, Sept. 30, against visiting Silver.
The Tigers wrapped up Part I, the pre-District 4-3A schedule that is, with a breakthrough 7-2 record.
Now comes Part II, in the lead-up to Part III (the district tournament) and what the Tigers hope will lead to Part IV – a state tournament bid in mid-November.
The Tigers were scheduled to take the floor Tuesday against league favorite and defending champion Silver at in Tiger Gym (junior varsity 4 p.m., varsity 5:30 p.m.)
Hot Springs wrapped up the pre-district schedule with a win –and season sweep– at Lordsburg on Tuesday, Sept. 22, beating the host Mavericks 3-2 (19-25, 25-16, 25-27, 27-25, 16-14).
“We didn’t play very good overall – probably one of our worst games so far as a team,” HSHS coach Robert Haro said. “We were just happy to get out of there with a win. We couldn’t pass, we served into net, and we just didn’t have a very good game. Nobody really stood out.”
Haro said the long road trip and an hour-long late start also were factors.
The Tigers lost to Silver earlier in the season in a non-district clash during the Zia Classic tournament in Roswell in mid-September. The Lady Colts won in straight sets, handing the Tigers only their second loss of the season (the first one coming against 5A tourney host Roswell).
The Tigers’ most impressive win of the season also occurred in Roswell – a 3-2 decision over 6A Carlsbad.
Silver is 6-4 on the season with losses against Jefferson and Burgess (El Paso schools), Artesia and Ruidoso. The Colts own wins over HSHS, Lordsburg (twice), Lubbock, and Clint, Texas.
Haro said Silver features two big hitters/blockers at net, so it will be key to exploit the weaker second back-row rotation.
“We have got to steal a match between (Silver) and Hatch,” Haro said. “If we can do that, I think we can do okay.”
Haro figures it will take at least 13 wins for the Tigers to warrant serious consideration for a state tournament invite outside of winning the district tourney outright and securing an automatic berth.
In addition to Silver, Hot Springs gets two more chances to add to its win total this week.
On Thursday, Oct. 2, Hot Springs steps outside of league play, hosting Magdalena (5 p.m. junior varsity, 6:30 p.m. varsity).
They travel to Carrizozo on Saturday, Oct. 4 (10 a.m. junior varsity, 11:30 a.m. varsity).
District play resumes on Tuesday, Oct. 7, when the Tigers are at Socorro to take on the 1-8 Lady Warriors, who may be struggling in the win-loss column, but are reportedly improving match by match, and playing opponents closely.
“We can’t take anybody for granted,” Haro said. “We have got to play hard.”
In the first part of the season, Hot Springs senior hitter Limor Johnson has emerged as the top scorer, recording 105 kills, followed by sophomore Callie Swaim (44), senior Savannah Starke (47), senior Starlyn Treadwell (42), junior Melene Berkstresser (33) and senior Maria Chavez (18).
It’s a balanced offensive attack that has helped lead the Tigers to its first winning mark entering league play since 2006 when they went 6-5 pre-district.