AJHS Knocks Off Coyotes in VB Finale

Lady Prospectors Wrap Up Season With Three Region Wins

By Daniel Dullum

SAN TAN VALLEY – Two years ago, Dominique Capps suffered a severe knee injury toward the end of the girls basketball season while attending Imagine Prep-Superstition..

She transferred to Apache Junction High and sat out her junior year, enduring a difficult rehab process. As a senior, Capps earned a victory just by being back in uniform and playing volleyball for AJHS.

“It went by like a flash. I didn’t even expect it,” Capps said following the Lady Prospectors’ four-game victory over San Tan Valley Combs on Oct. 23 at the AJHS gym. “I didn’t realize how fast Senior Night comes, especially since this is the last night I’m playing volleyball in high school.

“It hurts, because of all the memories I have, then it makes me happy because now I can just get ready for college … it was a blast.”

Capps suffered a torn ACL and a meniscus tear in her right knee playing basketball at Imagine Prep-Superstition as a sophomore. After transferring to AJHS, she skipped competitive sports in her junior year, focusing on her rehab, which didn’t go well initially.

“With all of that tied in, it totally took me out for my junior year of playing volleyball, which was a big downer,” Capps said. “I recovered fully, and right now, I don’t feel any pain.”

From the rehab experience, Capps said she learned “never to lose confidence in yourself and never give up, no matter how low you go or how much you feel that you failed yourself – you never did.

“They only way you can go is up. So, that’s basically what I learned,” she added. “I’m going to achieve what I set out to do, no matter what!”

Capps, still undecided on where she’ll attend college, is taking up aerospace engineering.

“My dad always said that I had the mind of an engineer,” Capps said. “I’ve always wanted to explore ‘what’s really up there,’ so I want to help build the rockets to find that out!”

Junior middle Haley Loftis has been inactive for most of the season due to a fracture in her back. Loftis, who has been sidelined since August, was able to register a pair of kills in AJ’s 25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 25-13 victory over the Coyotes.

“I just felt like it was the right thing to do for the last game of the season,” Coach Roach said. “We put Haley in a protected role of just standing there and hitting the ball over the net to give her some time on the court.”

Coach Roach said the hope is that by January or February, Loftis will back to “doing some outstanding things for us next year.”

“It’s been hard – she’s been at every single practice, every single game. When you come in from an injury like that, it was a decision made between the parents and I just to give her some time, just two plays on the court, so she feels like she’s part of this team.”

Apache Junction finished with a three-match winning streak, concluding its season at 13-19 overall, 7-2 in the 4A Black Canyon Region.

“It’s really sad, but it’s really relieving, knowing that we won our last game,” AJ setter Lucia Kimble said. “We went out with a bang. It was really exciting!”

Kimble said she would miss volleyball “a lot,” saying, “I love all of my teammates with all my heart. We’re all really close and really good friends, so that’s going to be the hardest part – not playing with them anymore.”

Kimble’s future includes attending Arizona State and working towards becoming a pediatric doctor. The inspiration, she said, came from “watching television.”

“Shows like Grey’s Anatomy, but I know that’s not really like real life. But there’s other shows, like about emergency rooms, and I love children, so working with them would be really fun.

Summing up her first year as varsity head coach Regan Roach said, “It was super nice to come back and play this as the last game. It was good competition and fun for the girls to play and play hard.  A lot of things I have learned as a coach, and just being observant of the girls and more aware of what I’ve seen or how I’m seeing it.

“Then, just learning their strengths and weaknesses, and putting aside your feelings. We’ve made some big changes this year, moving girls to positions they weren’t necessarily thrilled to be moving to.

“But in the end, I think it worked out best.”

In conclusion, Coach Roach said, “It’s been a really good season and fun to watch these girls grow – I’ve been watching them since seventh grade. This is the culmination of watching the immature part of these girls transition to running their own practices. I think they’re going to do some pretty great things in their world. Some of the girls are stepping up as leaders and it’s not really about volleyball, but what they can do with that in the future.

“I’m excited to see where they go.”

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