Usually, the volleyball teams from Clovis and Portales get to face each other multiple times during a season. Not this year, though, and it was a fairly long wait for the Lady Wildcats to get back at their southern rivals.
Clovis (11-6) turned back the Lady Rams 21-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-13 as senior Antiesha Brown totaled 11 kills and four blocks to lead the way.
It’s the only scheduled meeting this season between the two schools, who often face each other two to three times a year.
“We didn’t get to see them in our tournament,” Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “Last year, we met them because someone dropped both of us (from the schedule) kind of late and they came to Clovis and kind of spanked us. It was just embarrassing is what it was.
“It’s kind of nice to come to Portales and get a small portion of that respect back.”
Clovis sophomore outside hitter Alek Mendoza echoed that sentiment.
“It was a good chance to redeem ourselves,” said Mendoza, who finished with seven kills and four blocks. “Luckily, we won.”
Portales (11-7) pulled away from a 16-16 tie in the first game by registering a 6-1 run — punctuated by a pair of kills from Macy Mitchell. After Clovis closed within two points, at 23-21, a missed Clovis shot was followed by a service ace from Lady Rams senior Brittney Gardner to give Portales the first set.
Clovis rebounded in Game 2, seizing control by with 11 of 12 points in one stretch to go up 18-10.
The Lady Cats achieved a working margin in the third game as well with a 7-1 run. That streak, which put Clovis up 13-8, was largely achieved because of errors from Portales.
In fact, save one block by Mendoza, every point in the run was earned through a hitting gaffe from the home team.
“I thought we started out well and I thought we had a good defensive night,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said. “But we had a lot of hitting errors. We gave them, in one game, 12 points because of our hitting errors.”
The fourth game was never very close as Clovis moved out to an 8-2 lead and cruised home to clinch the match.
Jenna Wagner had nine kills to lead the Lady Rams, while Mitchell had eight. Clovis’ attack, led by Brown and Mendoza, was supplemented by sophomores Paige Gardner and Kirsti Shough — who each contributed five putaways.
“Kirsti and Paige and Alek, you can just see the difference from the (season-opening) Clovis Invitational to now,” Ray said. “They’re just so much more mature as hitters and, especially now, with their defense.”
The match was the last non-district contest for Portales before the state tournament. Clovis, which also scheduled Onate last week, has one more non-district match against Artesia spliced into its District 4-5A slate before the regular season ends.
“I think it’s more work for us, and I think it helps us out in the long run,” said Mendoza of the team’s remaining schedule.