For just a little while, it looked like the unthinkable might happen Tuesday night — Clovis High’s volleyball team losing to winless Artesia.
The Lady Bulldogs (0-12), who came in having won just five games all season, outplayed Clovis in winning the second game and then opened a 6-3 lead early in the third on back-to-back aces by freshman Kelly Richards.
Then reality set in. Clovis took off on a 22-4 burst to take the game, then cruised from there for a 25-13, 22-25, 25-10, 25-15 win at Rock Staubus Gym.
Lady Cats coach Darrel Ray said he wasn’t all that concerned.
“Young teams (like Artesia) are going to go through a lot of growing pains,” Ray said. “I thought they played a pretty good game in the first game, and their Game 2 was a super game.”
Clovis (8-3), coming off a third-place finish in the Tournament of Champions in Santa Fe over the weekend, won comfortably in the end. It just took the Lady Cats a while to get rolling.
“We got down on ourselves really fast,” junior middle blocker Delaney Ware, who had three kills after injuring a wrist diving for a ball at Santa Fe, said of the second-game loss. “We just made mistake after mistake in serve-receive, but we got a little talking to (from Ray) and came back in Game 3.”
Senior outside hitter Lainey Flatow got off to a slow start, but picked it up late and finished with a match-high 12 kills. Junior middle blocker Antiesha Brown added eight kills and five blocks.
“I thought both our big hitters were a little off tonight,” Ray said, referring to Flatow and Brown. “But (freshman) Alek Mendoza had a really good Game 1 and, even if she didn’t have a lot of stats, Delaney Ware had some really good swings.”
Ware, who missed much of last season with a broken hand, said she thought once the Lady Cats got back on track, they were fine.
“We just got our confidence up and play like a team again,” she said.
Even though her stats weren’t exactly off the charts, Ware said she thought she contributed.
“Overall, I thought I played pretty well,” she said. “I had some really good sets from passes to the middle tonight.
“I think we’ve been playing pretty well. We’ve been pretty consistent.”
Richards, one of three freshmen who play key roles for the Lady Bulldogs, finished with six kills, a block and three aces. The other frosh, Jenna Elkins and Hannah Ballew, contributed six and five kills, respectively.