Veteran coach Ruth Chavez and the Portales Lady Rams are almost ready for another state tournament run.
Junior middle hitter Jenna Wagner had 20 kills and freshman middle Macy Mitchell added 11 Thursday night as the Lady Rams stunned Clovis High 25-21, 25-21, 25-20 at Rock Staubus Gym, their first win over the Lady Wildcats in three years.
Portales (10-8) generally clicked on all cylinders, while Clovis never got much going. Senior outside hitter Lainey Flatow had 13 kills for the Lady Cats (12-6).
“They were the better team tonight,” Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “They served better, they passed better and, because of those two things, they were able to hit better.
“Basically, in every phase of the game, they were better than us tonight.”
Chavez, who has led the Lady Rams to five Class 3A state titles since 2000, said her squad has come a long way from the start of the season.
“We started out young and inexperienced,” Chavez said. “We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re getting there.
“Everyone that came on the floor played well for us tonight.”
Portales fell behind 5-1 and 5-2 in the two games, but the 6-foot Wagner was a dominant figure around the net in lifting them back into contention. She got plenty of help from her teammates.
“We had a few service errors, but out passes were good and Jenna was on fire,” said senior setter Dallas Russell, who contributed six aces and 23 assists. “We (played) with a lot of confidence, but we knew it was going to be a battle. I didn’t think we could get them in three.”
The Lady Cats appeared to be turning the corner when they got off to a fast start in Game 2, but with Russell on the service line Portales responded with a 9-0 run to take an 11-5 lead.
Leia Willis’ tip-kill capped a 10-1 surge that put Clovis back in front by three points. Portales responded with an 8-3 rally, taking a 20-18 lead when Mitchell put away a Clovis overpass.
The Lady Cats never caught up. Wagner provided game point by blocking Clovis junior Antiesha Brown for a 2-0 lead in games.
Portales opened a 14-4 bulge in the third game. Clovis came back to lead 18-17 on a kill by Flatow, but the Lady Rams scored the next six points to retake control.
Chavez said she doesn’t think her team minds playing from behind at times.
“We’re not young anymore,” she said. “No excuses — you have to play hard every time.”
Sophomore libero Felicia Aguilar had 20 digs and senior defensive specialist Nicole Anaya contributed four aces for Clovis.
Portales 3, Clovis 0
Portales 25 25 25
Clovis 21 21 20
Kills — Portales, Jenna Wagner 20, Macy Mitchell 11, Alexis Orcutt 5. Clovis, Lainey Flatow 13, Antiesha Brown 8, Meagan Baglien 5, Leia Willis 5. Blocks — Portales, Dallas Russell 1, Wagner 1. Clovis, Brown 1, Alek Mendoza 1. Digs — Portales, LeAnne Blaeser 8, Ashley Hernandez 7, Daniella Gomez 5. Clovis, Felicia Aguilar 20, Adrianna Aguilar 12, Nicole Anaya 10. Aces — Portales, Russell 6, four tied with 1. Clovis, Anaya 4, Baglien 2, Carissa Grummer 2. Assists — Portales, Russell 23. Clovis, Baglien 14, Grummer 13. Records — Portales 10-8, Clovis 12-6. Junior varsity — Clovis def. Portales 25-9, 14-25, 15-9.