The Lady Steers and the coaching staff celebrate its district championship on the Magdalena home court.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain photos

The Lady Steers final game of the regular season resulted in a victory against the Vaughn Lady Eagles with a 3-0 straight-set win, solidifying Magdalena’s spot in the upcoming state championships.

“Our team started off 1-7 this season and now we have a trophy. That shows you how resilient this group of girls are,” said Magdalena head coach Sara Sue Olney right after her team received its trophy.

It was predetermined to be the last game of the season for the Lady Eagles regardless of the result as they came in at 3-11 and ranked 6 in the District 3A standings. Head coach Patricia Martinez encouraged the players to fight on the court.

“We have a young team,” said Martinez. “This is a growing group that has the potential to play well every game. Being the last game of the season, I just told them to have fun and play your hearts out against Magdalena. Enjoy the last game.”

The Lady Eagles have had issues this season putting together a full squad in competition. Principal Laquita Wheeler came out to help coach as well. Wheeler could not confirm whether Vaughn would have a volleyball team next season.

The matchup was a key game for Magdalena. Winning district punches a ticket to compete at state.

Sophomore Kambree Montoya getting the ball over the net.

The Lady Eagles hit the first point of the game with senior Maria Munoz-Hernandez making a score off a strike at the net. The favored Lady Steers got things going with a 12-9 lead when Munoz-Hernandez was shaken up on a defensive tumble that had the Vaughn team and fans pumped up for the player. The Lady Steers wrangled things in for a 25-17 first set victory, capped off by senior Ella Ganadonegro connecting at the net.

The second set started similar to the first with both teams trading scores and timeouts. Then Lady Steers players like senior Arianna Munoz Paez made things 11-4 with tough play at the net.

“We practice every day to never give up on a play,” Paez said. “Sacrifice your body and do whatever you can to get that ball over the net. That is how Magdalena plays.”

Vaughn did not go away quietly in the second. At a two-point game 19-17, Lady Steers senior Kenzie Silva made multiple hits in order to close things out 25-17.

In the final set fans felt like this battle was a foregone conclusion with Vaughn coaches calling for time down 11-3. Athletic Director Jory Mirabal was bringing out the trophies. The Lady Eagles never gave up. Senior Maribel Herrada had some tough digs to keep the ball alive for Vaughn. It was not enough. The Lady Steers took over and ended its regular season with a dart shot from Silva that made it 25-9.

The win sends the team to state.

Senior Irene Martinez, one of many players honored before the game for senior night, was elated with the win.

“Our team keeps working hard and fight every night,” said Irene Martinez. “We’re a family as you can see. Whoever we play at state they should expect a team that is never going to give up.”

Coach Olney is focused on succeeding beyond the regular season.

“Once our girls realized it doesn’t have to be pretty, it must be a win, we found success. Going into state, everybody has a chance to win. Our team has the same chance to win just like everybody else. The record for all teams is 0-0 now so you just have to go in and see what happens.”