The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Rams back at it

Start volleyball practice returning one letter winner


August 14, 2018

Eric Murray

Portales senior Taylee Rippee is the only returning letterman to the Rams volleyball team in 2018. In this photo, Rippee practices her serve during team tryouts on Monday afternoon - the first day of official practices.

PORTALES — Losing six seniors and returning just one letter winner might discourage most volleyball coaches. But Portales' Charity Gomez isn't most volleyball coaches.

Gomez' squad began official practices on Monday afternoon, in preparation for the Lady Rams' season opener against Roswell on Aug. 30. And despite the youth at Monday's tryout, a strong summer meant a smooth first day.

"I feel like, because we pretty much practiced all summer, it's kinda like a continuation of that. I don't know that we did anything real different," Gomez said.

"We have all the things that we focus on — ball control, serving the ball hard, serve-receive — that kind of stuff. I felt like it was a pretty normal day. These kids are pretty dedicated and focused. They came pretty much all summer."

That summer training also allowed Gomez to help her squad further incorporate a key element of their philosophy — jump-serving which, according to Gomez, allows a server to get more velocity on the ball, and in turn, makes a "tough serve" that much more difficult for the opposition to defend.

In fact, during the summer Gomez talked with other coaches, and they've clearly taken notice of what's going on in Portales.

"We're serving it so tough. We started jump-serving last summer, but I didn't really make them do it really throughout the season. But we're now at a second year of doing it," Gomez said.

"Whenever I talk to coaches in the summer they say, 'Whenever we face someone who serves it tough, we have to get out of that rotation. But when we play you guys, the next server is serving tough — and then the next server is serving tough.' They don't get a break from that velocity, and that's our goal."

Gomez says that ultimately girls that were jump-serving last summer are serving the ball even tougher this year. At the end of the day, Gomez says that this allows for the Rams to sneak in some points with their service game, which in turn helps Portales compensate for its youth.

After tryouts Monday and today, players will find out which team they'll wind up on, which should help make practice even smoother. According to Gomez, practices over the coming weeks will be geared toward the season opener against Roswell.

And though it would seem that these practices would need to get even more accomplished, compared to last year's much more experienced squad, that's not really the case.

"I wouldn't call it that. I just have to be more of a stickler on a lot of the things that win volleyball games — the major details," Gomez explained.

"As a program — I'm going into my third year, these kids kind of know (what we expect). It starts at the bottom. We all do the same practice, so they know. Now, it's just at a different level. It's a little bit faster, the balls come a little bit harder. But they know what we're training and trying to do. I think now it's just, how fast can we get there."


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