Prep volleyball seasons open next week for FHS, PV

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That might be the adage for the Farmington Scorpions volleyball team, which will open the season Tuesday night against Durango.

The mask protocols, which were in place for many prep sports last spring, have returned once again. The New Mexico Activities Association recently announced masks were required for both participants and spectators at all indoor events.

Despite the inconvenience of the masks, head coach Lars Baker says his team has learned how to make the best of the situation.

Piedra Vista, Farmington High among five area schools mandating masks at indoor events

"We got used to it," Baker said. "When we couldn't play, but we still had a chance to practice, they were very isolated. But now, it feels like we're miles away from where we were before. They're not obsessing over the protocols, but it still a little different again with the masks."

The Scorpion volleyball team finished the truncated season with a record of 8-4, and because of travel restrictions last season, they never got a chance to see district rivals like La Cueva, Sandia, West Mesa or Eldorado.

The Scorpions and fellow District 2-5A rival Piedra Vista Panthers met three times during the season, with the Panthers winning all three matches.

The La Cueva Bears ended the season ranked third in Class 5A, advancing to the state semifinals before losing to Centennial 3 games to 1.

Farmington's Kailey Becenti passes the ball back to her right side against Kirtland Central on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, at Scorpion Arena in Farmington.

"Our district is loaded," Baker said. "La Cueva is the top of the district, Sandia is always in the mix, and so it's safe to say we're one of the premier districts in the state."

Baker is confident that his team will be ready for the start of the season, with a lot of talented seniors heading the squad. 

"We've got five returning starters, six seniors and a lot of experience," Baker said. "We're ready to go and excited to be back in the swing of things."

Among the returning seniors, Kylie Goodluck, Kailey Becenti and Leilani Charley will be key to the success of this season.

"We've got some real scrappy competitors, and it starts with (Becenti)," Baker said. "These are a bunch of kids who are going to help us be in the mix."

Baker made it clear that even in dealing with the obstacles of having to practice in masks, or the reality of having to play in masks for the foreseeable future, he and the team are much happier to be on the court than they were last season.

"Getting ready for this season has been fantastic," Baker said. "Last season was very tough on everyone with the starting and stopping. This year has been much more fun."

Piedra Vista had a strong season, finishing with a record of 12-1 with their only loss coming in the state tournament, falling to Cleveland 3 games to 2.

Coach Hazel Jackson has a pair of returning seniors on her roster, including Angel Clyde and Laynie Basham plus the intimidating Bailey Rasmussen, who will definitely be a centerpiece at the net standing at 5-feet, 11-inches tall.

The Panthers open the season Tuesday night when they take on Bayfield.  

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680