Set to Spike for 2023

2022 Volleyball Season Sets Team Up for Success in 2023


Louis Herndon

For every highlight-reel thunder spike, there’s a well-placed set; for every dominant Demon volleyball season, there are hours of practice, weeks of preseason prep, and years of strategizing.

In the past decade, volleyball has headlined as one of Santa Fe High’s most competent athletic programs, alongside boys’ basketball and the recent emergence of boys’ soccer. Entering the season, the Demons had marked an impressive .70 win percentage (59 wins and 25 losses) since 2018 – placing first or second in district rankings in each of those years. 

The pinnacle of this four-year stretch came in 2020, when the team punched a ticket to the state final match after taking first in district with a 10-2 record. At that point, it was Santa Fe High’s best opportunity to win a state championship of any sort since 2014. Unfortunately, the team was thrown off rhythm by the Las Cruces Centennial squad and failed to pull out the win, but such an encouraging run into the playoffs generated enough momentum for another successful year in 2021.

Following the loss of six seniors last year, this year’s varsity team suffered their first losing season since 2017 and fell short of qualifying for state. But while the Varsity Demons had to reset their expectations for the season after suffering a difficult pre-district schedule, the team had no reason to hang their heads. 

Senior captains Eliza Fowler and Alyssa Sanchez were both included in the all-district team, with Alyssa qualifying for 1st team all-district. 

In addition, both the freshman and JV teams exceeded expectations. The all-freshman C team earned the top spot in the district, nearly achieving an undefeated season, and the JV wrapped up the season with a convincing 11-6 record. 

The coaching staff, led by Coach Josie Adams, have learned to not disregard players because of a lack of experience. Rather, they evaluate potential team members by “look[ing] at the whole athlete,” as Coach Josie explained. Coaches among the three teams communicate constantly and don’t refrain from promoting players to the next level of competition at midseason. “Even a C-team player could come up and play with us,” she said.

Although the C team is designed to help develop the skills of freshmen exclusively, this season, four freshmen (Mikayela Gonzales, Payten Chavez, Aubrey Sena, and Elianna Quintana)  earned a spot on JV, and two others (Aleena Hubbard and Azala Balladares) earned spots on Varsity. 

To many, it’s no surprise that the team has established a young core. The gym nearly overflowed the week before school started in August as 83 athletes showed up to try out, Coach Josie reported. The staff selected 14 athletes to compete on the C team, 13 for JV, and 12 for Varsity. Cultivating a winning culture and positive reputation in the past few years has contributed to the popularity and desire to join the organization.

The team began preparing for the season in early summer as they followed a disciplined regimen of collegiate level training at each practice. Coach Josie puts great emphasis on quick twitch drills to develop the athletes’ reaction time and quick bursts of power.

Coach Josie’s enthusiasm, knowledge of the sport, and magnetizing personality continues to attract and fuel Demon volleyball.

Coach Josie played Division 1 volleyball for the University of Kentucky under legendary coach Dell Namath, earning a roster spot as a defensive specialist. Her expertise in back-row passing and defense has been reflected on the playing style of the Demons today. “We take pride in a dominant passing program,” she said.

Coach Josie began her coaching career in 2009 as an assistant at Santa Fe Waldorf School before progressing to head coach of the team. She then spent two years at St. Mike’s as their head coach before finding her home at SFHS. And boy, does she love it!

“I love being at a big public school,” Coach Josie said about playing in the 5A division. “To be great you have to play with the best,” she said.

Coach Josie is also an active member of the campus environment. Along with teaching the Yearbook class in first period and being responsible for the end-of-year product, she holds a volleyball period later in the day and is on standby as a full-time sub the rest of the time. She is constantly flying around campus covering abandoned classrooms, making herself well known to a large portion of the student population. 

Demon volleyball is approaching the future with gleaming optimism and even gratitude for this past season: “The winning circle is a dangerous place to be for too long,” said Coach Josie.

The 2022 Demon Volleyball season was one of rebuilding. This season set the table for the growth of a dynamic and promising young core that seeks to feast its way toward a state title in 2023.