Nobody’s really happy playing in a third-place game. It’s usually whichever team handles it better that wins.
Clovis High’s girls were in sync from the start Saturday night and the Lady Wildcats defeated two-time defending state Class 1A champion Tatum 25-22, 26-24, 25-21 for third in the Gold Bracket of the Lady Wildcats’ volleyball invitational at Rock Staubus Gym.
Texico won the tournament championship for the second year in a row, routing Lubbock Christian in the finals 25-20, 25-13, 25-17.
Senior Paige Gardner had 13 kills and three blocks for the Lady Cats (3-1), who lost in three sets to Lubbock Christian early Saturday in the semis. Gardner got plenty of help, though, as her team played a solid all-around match.
Gardner said the Lady Cats had more trouble dealing with Tatum’s deliberate style.
“It was kind of hard to get into it because they slow it down,” she said. “Once we got into it, there was no stopping us.”
Tatum coach Mike Majors said it’s been a long time since his squad hasn’t reached the finals of a tournament. The Lady Coyotes (1-2) went down in five games to Texico in the other semifinal.
“We haven’t played in a third-place game in over two years,” he said. “I’m disappointed, though, that we didn’t show a little more pride.
“We had no spark or energy, but I thought Clovis played well. They’ve got more weapons than I thought, and their back row played well also.”
Majors praised senior defensive specialist Jonasia Johnson in particular. The Lady Coyotes attacked her often in the match, but she was up to the challenge.
Senior Kirsti Shough added 10 kills and 13 assists for the Lady Cats in her dual role of outside hitter and setter.
“Kirsti and Paige were pretty balanced,” Lady Cats coach Gabe Apodaca said. “I think what kept Tatum really off-guard is we were hitting from all parts of the floor. Tatum only runs a single block for the most part, so that player better be guessing right.”
While the games were close, the Lady Cats rarely trailed. Tatum got to match point at 24-22 in the second game on a tip-kill by senior Monica Ramirez, but Clovis pulled even and Gardner then delivered back-to-back blocks for a 2-0 lead in games.
Gardner said the win was a team effort.
“Everybody stepped up tonight,” she said. “We just wanted to come out and play really strong.”
Tournament MVP Devanne Souts collected 14 kills and three blocks for the Lady Coyotes. Others on the all-tournament team were Gardner, Jaylyn and Jordyn Cooper of Texico, Ashley Landreth of Fort Sumner, Kalee Mack of Lubbock Christian and Stephanie Sun of Albuquerque Academy.
Texico sweeps Lubbock Christian — The Lady Wolverines (4-0) beat the Lady Eagles for the second time this season, getting 11 kills each from the Cooper twins. Jordyn Cooper added four blocks and five digs while Jaylyn had two blocks, five digs and two aces, while Shaylee Anderson had five kills and five blocks.
Earlier, Texico advanced to the finals by rallying past Tatum, overcoming a 2-1 deficit in games to win 15-9 in he tiebreaker. Jaylyn Cooper led the way with 17 kills while Anderson had seven kills and four blocks.