The new era of Ignacio High School volleyball will begin tonight with a core of familiar faces – and some new ones.
Coach Thaddeus Cano, an assistant last season, moved up to the head position this season.
His first varsity team at Ignacio, which will host Kirtland Central at 6 p.m. today, will be led by a trio of seniors who have been mainstays for the Bobcats on the volleyball court and the basketball court throughout their high school careers.
“We have the three seniors,” Cano said of the triumvirate of Michelle Simmons, Mariah Vigil and Destinee Lucero.
“Things have been going great in practice,” said Cano, a veteran club volleyball coach and former assistant to Andy Rice at Pagosa Springs. He also has been an assistant in Farmington and Bloomfield.
He said he and the Bobcats are excited to open the new season against a quality opponent like Kirtland Central, ranked No. 9 in Class 4A in New Mexico this week.
“Michelle is such an incredible natural athlete,” Cano said of the returning all-conference outside hitter. She’s also an all-conference basketball player and a perennial state track qualifier.
“Right now, she is in excellent form.”
The first-year Ignacio coach said additional preseason conditioning has paid dividends for the Bobcats thus far.
“Destinee ... an outside (hitter), is a very good passer,” Cano said.
“Mariah, a lefty, will hit from the right side. Also, the middle. We’ve very versatile as a team and with her,” he said.
Junior Cloe Seibel, who sets up the Bobcats as the point guard on the basketball court, also is the point guard/setter on the volleyball court.
“Cloe is an incredibly quick athlete. She can get to bad passes out of system and still get the ball to our hitters,” Cano said. “She’s a great hitter, too. But we need her to set.”
Junior Angela Herrera will handle duties at libero. She’ll also work some at the net, Cano said.
“It was a tough decision to take her out of the hitter’s role. But her ability as a libero is much more critical,” Cano said.
Junior Cheyenne Cook, who worked with Cano on the JV team last year, will be working with the varsity this season.
“She has a great serve, and she runs that slide (out of the middle),” Cano said.
He said the Bobcats also benefit from a trio of freshmen on the varsity this sason.
Chrystianne Valdez, Miel Diaz and Ellie Siebel are up from Ignacio’s championship middle school/junior high squad.
“Chrystianne ... is amazing. She’s a good player.”
Diaz brings an effective jump float serve, the Ignacio head coach said.
“Ellie Siebel is so versatile,” he said. She’ll play outside, opposite ... everywhere, Cano said.
“She is very quick and still a freshman. She hustles and works hard,” he said of Cloe’s younger sister.
He said she has a stunning vertical jump for a young player.
The freshmen, he said, still are adjusting to their roles on the team.
“We’ll work together ... work to help the freshmen,” Cano said.
“We’re excited. We’re ready,” said Cano, who took over IHS after former head coach Bayli Stillwell relocated to Miller Middle School in Durango.
The C match will start at 4 p.m. today. The junior varsity contest will follow about 5 p.m., with the varsity next in line.
The Bobcats will play again Sept. 4 at Aztec before opening the Class 2A/1A San Juan Basin League at Dove Creek on Sept. 11.
They’ll face a key conference match at Telluride on Sept. 14.
Telluride was one of three San Juan Basin teams to advance to the CHSAA State Volleyball Championships last season along with Mancos and Norwood (1A).