If Roswell High’s first-game win at Portales High seemed a little bit too easy, there’s a reason. It was.
Jenna Wagner had 17 kills, as host Portales recovered from a sluggish start and rallied at key points to defeat the Lady Coyotes 14-25, 25-15, 27-25, 25-21.
The victory for Portales (3-2) didn’t seem so assured early on, as a Roswell squad with just one match on the season jumped out to a 10-2 advantage and rolled from there.
“In game one, after we beat them so easily, I told the girl, ‘That’s not Portales,’” Roswell coach Bryan Masse said. “‘We played them this summer, they were very tough. They’re going to wake up.’ Game two, that’s exactly what they did.”
Roswell, which is essentially replacing six starters from last season — five players graduating plus an ACL tear for junior middle blocker Shanice Steenholdt — did some work to stop Portales, holding Wagner to just two kills in the first game.
But the Lady Rams weren’t doing themselves any favors.
“We weren’t moving well, and we started off sluggish,” said senior libero Amanda Marquez, who served Portales to 4-0 and 5-0 runs in the easy second-game win. “In the second game, we came out (and did more) talking.”
Portales coach Ruth Chavez, while praising a Ram team that is still in transition, was a little more emphatic.
“We made the difference for Roswell,” said Chavez. “We had eight hitting errors and a couple of serve-receive errors.
“We came back and, I thought, played well for three games.”
Portales very nearly blew an 8-2 lead in the third game, and Roswell rallied to take a 25-24 lead on a kill by junior Deja Riddle. But a trio of Roswell hitting errors helped the Lady Rams push through.
“You’d like to say that” experience made a difference, Masse said, noting Roswell only had one match prior to Tuesday. “But you’ve got to give Portales credit for making the plays they needed to. Hopefully with more experience, we’ll be able to take advantage.”
The Lady Rams are in transition as well, as junior Megan Chambers played her first match as the primary setter.
“It’s one of the most difficult positions on the floor,” Chavez said. “You’ve got so many touches on the ball and one error is huge.”
Portales finished a tight fourth game, staving off a late Lady Coyotes run. Wagner pushed her final kill to an open spot on the left sideline, giving the squad a win heading into the Zia Classic Sept. 11-12 in Roswell.
Chavez said the players have been working on finishing matches when they have a chance, and Marquez said the confidence tends to build as matches go on.
“We know if it’s not going to be us,” Marquez said. “It’s going to be one of our teammates that takes care of things.”