Over the past decade or so, the Portales Lady Rams have been the premier volleyball program in Class 3A with eight trips to the state finals since 2000, including five championships.
The last two years, though, the Lady Rams were beaten in the title match by Pojoaque, and that just doesn’t sit too well.
“Our motto this year is ‘unfinished business,’” senior setter Alli Segovia said. “We have six seniors, and we’re all just motivated (to win it).”
Portales, 20-4 last year, returns four regulars to its lineup in Segovia, senior middle hitters Macy Mitchell and Kelsey Laurenz and sophomore outside hitter-setter Kristen Wagner. The Rams host Hobbs tonight in their season opener.
Meantime, veteran coach Ruth Chavez admits it’s been a bit different getting ready for the season. She lost a son, 13-year-old Peyton Chavez, to a heart problem last spring.
“This has been a hard year for sure,” said Chavez, entering her 11th year at the helm. “These girls have just carried me through the hardest part of my life. I could not walk a step if it weren’t for them.
“Usually you’re the strength for your kids, but now they’re the strength for me.”
Chavez said the loss of her son was a lesson in life.
“We’re going back with a purpose,” she said. “We’ve learned that life is really short, and you never know about tomorrow.”
The Lady Rams intend to do all they can to put another state championship banner up at the school, Segovia said.
“We want to give 110 percent — not just 100 percent,” she said. “That’s what wins (matches). We have a lot of talent in the back row and a good core of hitters.”
Replacing the graduated Gabby Garcia, Sara Christensen and Megan Chambers won’t be easy.
“Gabby was a big loss; all three were big losses,” Segovia said. “(Garcia) wasn’t just a good hitter, she was smart all the way around. I learned a lot from Gabby.”
August: 23 — Hobbs, 6:45 p.m.; 26-27 — at Clovis tournament; 30 — Roswell High, 6:45 p.m.
September: 2-3 — at Moriarty tournament; 6 — at Clovis, 6:45 p.m.; 13 — at Roswell Goddard, 6:45 p.m.; 20 — at Roswell High, 6:45 p.m.; 27 — Roswell Goddard, 6:45 p.m.
October: 4 — Artesia, 5:45 p.m.; 8 — at Texico, 2 p.m.; 13 — Lovington, 5:45 p.m.-x; 15 — at Artesia, 2 p.m.; 18 — at Ruidoso, 6:45 p.m.-x; 20 — Clovis, 6:45 p.m.; 25 — at Lovington, 6:45 p.m.-x; 29 — Ruidoso, 6:45 p.m.-x.
x-Denotes District 4-3A matches.