For Clovis High’s volleyball team, Tuesday’s match against Amarillo Palo Duro was the season opener.
The Lady Dons, meantime, were already in midseason form.
Palo Duro broke away late in the third game en route to a 25-22, 22-25, 25-17, 25-18 win over Clovis at Rock Staubus Gym.
The Lady Dons, who improved to 9-8 for the season, return to The Rock this weekend for the Clovis Invitational, then have just one more match remaining before they begin their district schedule.
Palo Duro coach Andrea Fluman said her team struggled last year, but returned most of its talent and she came into the season wanting to see the Lady Dons pick up the pace.
She said she got tough with her squad when practice started.
“We’re mainly seniors and it’s mainly the team we had last year,” said Fluman, whose team began practice on Aug. 2 and played its first match eight days later. “My goal this year was to see us perform at a high level.”
Senior outside hitter Shandra Telford, who stands only 5-foot-6, had 10 kills and one of the team’s three blocks.
Fluman, though, said it was a team effort.
“I have athletes, but none of them really stand out,” she said. “It takes a whole team for us to win.”
Palo Duro led virtually the whole first game, going ahead for good when Telford’s kill started a 5-0 run that made it 18-13.
The Lady Cats returned the favor in the second game, rallying late to square the match after Palo Duro turned a 17-11 deficit into a 21-20 lead. Junior outside hitter Kirsti Shough put Clovis back in front with back-to-back kills. Freshman Sydney Romero gave them the lead for good at 23-22 with a putaway.
Palo Duro pulled away from a 10-10 tie in the third game, going on an 11-3 run, then dominated most of the fourth game as well.
First-year Lady Cats coach Gabe Apodaca said his squad was hurt at times by mixups on the court.
“Overall we did OK, but we’ve got to get rid of the mental errors, like not knowing what play we’re running,” he said. “We struggled through a certain rotation all night long, and in the first (match), it was exposed.”
He said the Lady Cats also missed transfer Kaleigh Mitchell, a junior middle hitter who is awaiting a ruling on her eligibility after transferring from Onate.
“We’ve got to have enough confidence in the rest of the team (to get the job done),” Apodaca said.
Junior outside hitter Paige Gardner had 16 kills for the Lady Cats, while Sough had eight and Romero six.
“They were just a great, athletic team,” Apodaca said of the Lady Dons. “But that’s kind of their M.O. We’re just going to have to play our tails off to beat them.”