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With just a single loss through 14 matches, to say the Bulldog volleyball team put together a solid 2019 regular season would be an understatement.

The squad had their challenges, and they didn’t always put their best foot forward – particularly in pool play at their two major tournaments – but when matches were on the line, the girls in orange found a way to win, and as such, they’re currently ranked second in the MaxPreps Class 4A state volleyball polls.

But the ‘Dogs know the games that really count are still ahead of them. They start this week as Artesia joins Lovington, Goddard and Portales in kicking off District 4-AAAA play in the toughest district, top to bottom, in the class.

“Currently, we’re ranked second, Portales is third, and Goddard is fifth,” head coach Alan Williams said Saturday. “So that makes for a pretty competitive district. There won’t be anything to take lightly, and I’ll be surprised if anyone gets through undefeated. I think it’s going to be a battle, but that only gets you ready for state, so that’s a good thing.”

The Bulldogs will open their D4 slate at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday against Lovington on the road. The Wildcats are 13th in the MaxPreps polls with a record of 8-6.

Artesia’s first district home game will be one fans won’t want to miss at 2 p.m. Saturday against Goddard. The Rockets stand at 11-2 on the season and fell to Artesia in four Sept. 21 in bracket play of the Zia Classic tournament.

The ‘Dogs will finish out Round One at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at Bulldog Pit versus Portales (also 13-1) before starting all over Oct. 26 with Lovington at home and their final two matches of regular district play on the road against Goddard (Oct. 29) and Portales (Nov. 2).

Artesia is still in the midst of a 10-day layoff that began following their five-game win over Hobbs Oct. 5, and Williams says the team has been working on fine-tuning.

“We’ve had 14 games, so we pretty much know by now what we need to work on,” said the coach. “We’ve just been trying to focus on those things and get the little things in good shape before district.

“[The teams in District 4] are all real familiar with each other. We play each other all summer long, a lot of the kids on these teams are back from last year, so we all know where we are. We’re just looking to put forth our best effort, and if we do that every game, I think we’ll be successful.”

The Bulldogs will hold a Pink Out game for their home bout with Portales Oct. 22. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and donate what they can to breast cancer research. T-shirts will be sold, and fans can contact volleyball parents and boosters for more information.