ALBUQUERQUE — The last time Lynn Cash met a volleyball, it was November.
But she hadn’t forgotten how to use it Monday night.
Cash, a recent graduate of Pojoaque Valley High School, was in a peculiar position when she served in Game 3 of the Class AA-AAA North/South All-Star volleyball match in Johnson Gym on the University of New Mexico campus. The North was down 16-12, something that Cash was unfamiliar with while an Elkette.
Pojoaque lost just two games in 2011, on its way to a 24-0 record and a third straight Class AAA championship. This was new territory for Cash, but the lessons she learned from her head coach, Brian Ainsworth, weren’t forgotten.
“Coach Brian always taught me that, when you were down, you have the most control when you serve,” Cash said. “So I took a deep breath every single time, and said, ‘I am going to put this where I’m going to make the ace.’ ”
Four points and an ace later, Cash had evened the score at 16 and the North took control of the match for good. It went on to a 25-20, 19-25, 25-21 win over the South to continue a good night for the Northern crew, which took the Class A/B match for the first time in 10 years with a 26-24, 25-22 win.
While Cash and former teammate Cara Salazar reveled in remaining undefeated as seniors, they knew that the night belonged to another group of seniors who used to wear green and white.
The Cooper twins, Jordyn and Jaylyn, never knew the bitter sting of ending a season — or a career — with a loss, having been a part of five of six AA titles at Texico. They showed why that happened with their play at the net.
Jaylyn had a match-best 19 kills, while Jordyn added 10. Jaylyn had a most impressive stretch during Game 3, when she pounded four straight spikes to turn a 17-16 South lead into a 20-17 North advantage it never lost.
Jaylyn finished the night and the match with a kill, her seventh over the final nine points for the North.
Cash got in a kill for one of the other two points, and finished with seven kills in all.
But it was a night for the Cooper twins.
“They’re two amazing athletes, and they are two amazing people,” said Salazar, who will continue her volleyball career as a walk-on on the very same court for UNM. “Their personalities are so welcoming. Coming into this, you don’t know if you’re going to make friends or if you’re going to be an outcast. Having girls like that and their setter [Kylynn Thomas] is so nice and an experience to have for the rest of your lives.”
For Salazar, who played libero, she is ready to take on the challenge at the collegiate level, where she will team with 2010 Pojoaque grad Miquella Lovato on the team.
“It’s so great to know that I can represent New Mexico and Pojoaque and coach Brian and all the girls I played with so well,” Salazar said. “It’s going to be a great experience for me here.”
McCurdy School’s Johnna Irwin and Desert Academy’s Estrella Flores represented the area well in the opening match.
Flores adjusted to a new position — libero — and performed well under the circumstances.
“I think it was more my teammates and my coaches,” Flores said. “They were all nice and they coached me all along, and helped me with everything.”
Irwin had a pair of kills, including one that broke a 22-all tie and helped finish off the South.
“It was awesome,” Irwin said of her contribution. “It felt amazing.”