FARMINGTON — After falling to Texico in the 3A state championship match last season, the Navajo Prep volleyball team is hungry to not only make it back to the finals but bring a blue trophy back home.
"I think with this group, we're a lot more determined," Prep head coach Rainy Crisp said. "Last year, I think we were satisfied with getting to the state championship game, but this year, the girls are more hungry to take the next step and be state champions."
The Lady Eagles lost five seniors from last year's team, which finished the season 20-3, but return three All-State selections from 2014. Jasmine Coleman leads the way for Prep after being named first team All-State in her junior campaign.
Crisp said Coleman has a high volleyball IQ, and she is a natural leader on the court.
"She's very vocal on the floor and the team definitely feeds off of her," Crisp said of Coleman. "Everyone knows she's a great player, and they really feed off what she does."
Crisp said she is also expecting big seasons out of senior LeShauntai Adams and junior Diamond Jones, who were both second-team selections in 2014.
"(Adams) really stepped up at the end of the season last year, and I'm expecting her to do the same for us this season," Crisp said. "(Jones) has been playing volleyball all summer. She's gotten quicker and more versatile, and I'm excited about the different ways we can use her."
The three seniors bring a strong skills set to the court, but also carry the state tournament experience from last season, which could be the biggest asset they bring to the team in 2015.
"I think one of the huge strengths of ours is knowing what it takes to get to the state championship game," Crisp said. "We have a good group of returners who are experienced and can handle the pressure to help guide us back to the state championship."
Before the Lady Eagles can make it back to the state championship match, they'll have to get through their non-district and district schedule.
Prep claimed the District 1-3A title a year ago, the program's sixth district title in eight seasons. The Lady Eagles finished second in the two years they didn't win the crown. Crisp said repeating as district champs is high on the team's list of goals, but first she wants the squad to have a strong start to the season.
"Last year, we kind of peaked," Crisp said. "We got started kind of slow at the beginning of the year and got going in the middle of the year. This year we want to start strong right away."
The Lady Eagles will get a chance to set the tone for the season when they welcome Desert Academy to the Eagles Nest at 5 this evening.