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Centennial High School has been a fixture in the volleyball postseason every year since they opened.  This year they are again considered one of the teams to beat. “The obvious goal is wanting to win state, but every day we walk into practice with the mentality that we need to have high standards for ourselves,” said senior Tess Fuqua.

The Hawks have the reigning Gatorade New Mexico Volleyball Player of the Year in senior Tess Fuqua, who committed to play at Arizona next year.  “I have improved my game with passing,” Tess said.  “With my scholarship to Arizona, that’s something the coach wants me to improve on and it’s been a big focus of my improvement.”

The senior outside hitter admits she feels a little pressure that comes with being one of the top players in New Mexico.  “Yes, I do, but that’s the good thing about pressure, is that it drives me to want to play harder,” she said.  “It’s like playing with a chip on your back.  Victory is always better with pressure.”

Centennial has had a lot of those victories lately.  The Hawks appeared in the state final six of the last eight years. If they want to get there again, it has to be more than just a one person highlight show. “We’re definitely going to have to scramble the ball around a lot,” explained Tess.  “A lot of the teams expect the ball to go to main players like me and so that’s something we’re going to have to work on is getting more players to step up and to play harder and swing bigger.”

“We’re working to get other people involved because if it’s just her (Tess), that’s kind of where we were last year, it was a lot of her and not enough of other things and we couldn’t quite get there, so that’s our goal,” said head coach Al Rosen.

This is the last year for head coach Al Rosen.  He retired from teaching in January, but came back to coach one more year.  He’s won five state titles coaching at both Gadsden and Centennial and racked up more than 300 career wins. “Some of these girls I’ve been with for a while were going to be seniors and there wasn’t anyone obvious coming in to take my place, so I agreed to go for it for one more shot,” said the veteran coach.

“Rosen has been a great coach and a great mentor, and he’s been my coach ever since he’s been little, so it’s bitter sweet,” said senior Bella Castro.

“It’s devastating, but I’m glad his last season is with me,” said Tess.  “It’s definitely going to be more memorable when we win.”

“Last year, so gotta go out with a bang,” added Castro.

“We’re definitely going to be in the running for it (state title),” said Rosen.  “I’m not making any predictions, there’s great teams out there, La Cueva and Las Cruces and a bunch of others.  There’s all kinds of variables, but we’re going to work every day to get there and hopefully we’ll be in that final game.”

Win or lose, this November will be Rosen’s last ride as head coach.

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