RIO RANCHO — Portales had a rough beginning to its first day at the state volleyball tournament. But fortunately for the Rams, it turned out to be a short day.
Portales swept Bloomfield in pool play Thursday at the Santa Ana Star Center, ensuring a first-round bye and a quarterfinal matchup at 1:15 p.m. Friday.
That certainly beat the alternative, a 9 p.m. first-round game Thursday at the Star Center.
“Considering we left at 6 a.m.,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said, “that 9 p.m. game was not in our plan.”
There was an outside chance that second-seeded Portales (14-7), winnings of eight of their last nine, would be playing in the Thursday semifinal after splitting with Santa Fe Indian School. But Portales edged the Braves in total points scored, and Santa Fe Indian swept Bloomfield.
After that, all Portales had to do was sweep past the Bobcats.
“The first game was difficult,” junior setter Megan Chambers said, “but we got a lot of nerves out of our system.”
Chavez, who has coached Portales to four state titles since taking over in 2001, said Santa Fe Indian played a lot better than their fifth-place finish in District 2-3A, which included Robertson and top-seed Pojoaque.
“I think they're a scrappy team, very underrated,” Chavez said.
With four pool play games going on the Star Center floor, there were several stoppages of play with balls from other games entering the field of play for Portales. In one key stretch against Bloomfield, a long volley the Bobcats looked set to win got interrupted by an errant ball from a Raton-Robertson game. On the replay, Bloomfield served the ball into the net, starting a 4-0 run for Portales.
“You've just got to focus on your game,” Chambers said, “not worry about anything else.”