ALBUQUERQUE — The third time wasn’t the charm, and neither was the fourth.
Ruidoso swept Portales in three competitive games Friday in the Class 3A state volleyball semifinals at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center.
Ruidoso (20-3) also beat the Lady Rams twice during the District 4-3A regular season and in the district tournament.
“Every point we battled,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said after the 27-25, 25-21, 25-19 loss. “We were right there with them and it could have gone any way. We should have taken Game 1. I think that would have made the difference.”
In fact, Portales (14-11) had momentum early in Game 1, building a 10-3 advantage behind several kills from junior middle hitter Jenna Wagner and freshman Macy Mitchell. But Ruidoso charged back, erasing a nine-point deficit with a 21-10 run to close out the game.
Seniors Amber Gardner and Sammi Bennett collected 17 kills between them for Ruidosoin the first game.
Game 2 and Game 3 were back-and-forth affairs.
“We are disappointed that we lost,” Wagner said. “But it’s not the end of the world. We’ll be back.
“We have the same goal every year, and that’s to win a state championship. We didn’t do it this year, but we have to work for it again.”
The Lady Rams defeated Cuba Thursday morning in a first-round match, then beat Hatch Valley in the quarterfinals.
“We’ve been in the final four for the past nine years,” Chavez said. “Nobody thought we would be here this year — and we were.”
Setter Dallas Russell is one of four seniors the Lady Rams will lose to graduation.
“Dallas has been playing at this level since she was in ninth grade,” Chavez said. “Since she’s been in the varsity program she’s given us everything she has.”
Ruidoso will face Robertson in the championship match Saturday morning. Robertson defeated Pojoaque in four games in Friday’s late semifinal.