Last spring, Analysa Rivera and Alissa Cadell helped lead the Antelope softball team to the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division IV State Tournament.
Now the two are going to try to help bring the Rams volleyball team to the state playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The Rams (5-4) took a step in the right direction with a 25-13, 25-19, 25-6 victory at San Pasqual on Thursday. Rivera had five aces in the match and freshman Mariela Rios had a solid outing with some strong kills.
"We've moved around a lot, and all of us have good hits," Rios said. "We have good plays and we get along with each other."
Rivera and Cadell both see a lot of each other since they play the same position in volleyball – defensive specialist – and both were pitchers in softball.
"She pushes me to what I want and what I could achieve," Cadell said of Rivera.
Antelope coach James Jones said the Rams are talented enough to make the state tournament, it's just a matter of putting it together. With a young group – Rivera and setter Cheyenne Lopez are juniors, Cadell is a sophomore – Jones said that the Rams are still a year or two away.
"It's going to get exciting here in a couple years," Jones said. "I think in about two years we're going to be pretty good and next year we're going to be pretty good. In two years, I do see us developing to the point where we could be a Yuma Catholic – something like that – where we make the playoffs, we make the playoffs and we're a staple in the playoffs."
Jones said the goal for this season in the 17 matches is to win 36 sets – last year they won a total of 26 sets. One of the biggest areas Jones hopes to see improvement is getting the players to get over their timidness on the court to communicate stronger.
"They have to mentally force them to do that," said Jones, who took over the Rams varsity squad last season. "But they're getting better at it. They don't like to be bossy, so they don't want to get that persona that they're bossy and their teammates get mad at them. They've got to get over that part, and they're slowly getting over that."
While the Rams, who came into their match against San Pasqual No. 30 in AIA Power Points, are hoping to make the state tournament in Division IV, they've had some success playing the bigger schools in town, too. They swept Yuma High in the first match of the year, took San Luis to five sets and hung tough in a sweep against Kofa – which is the top team in the area.
"Playing a Yuma school and we're such a small school, we knew we had to step our game up and hang in there," Cadell said.
"We weren't scared, but you're not going to see a team in our division or our section – I don't even know what it is anymore – you're not going to see very many teams that can hit like (Kofa). Like that Jasmine (Ortiz)," Jones said. "Once they saw that they could hang with them, that nervousness went away and they just started playing."