Clovis High volleyball coach Darrel Ray feels the competition in this year’s Clovis invitational is stronger than ever.
Usual participants such Fort Sumner, Albuquerque Academy and St. Michael’s will be part of the mix on Friday and Saturday. But a pair of Lubbock squads (Lubbock High and Estacado) will help strengthen the level of play, according to Ray.
“The two El Paso schools (Del Valle and Ysleta) are coming back in and two new schools in from Lubbock,” Ray said. “I know that Estacado is off to a very strong start. They beat us over in Lubbock last year and they’re very athletic.
“They look like a track team in volleyball gear.”
Hobbs and Los Lunas were regulars in the Clovis tournament in recent years, but both are in a newly-created Hobbs invitational this week. That, however, is a four-team event while the Clovis tourney has 16 teams.
Pool play begins at 8 a.m. today at the three Clovis High gymnasiums and one at the ninth-grade campus.
The top two teams in each of the four pools will move into the gold bracket while the bottom two will be in the silver bracket. Bracket play begins on Friday afternoon with quarterfinals, with semifinals and championships taking place on Saturday.
The title contest is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Rock Staubus Gym.
Portales, the defending Class 3A state champ, will be in Pool C with 3A rivals St. Mike’s and Raton as well as Denver City, Texas — another new team to the tournament.
Clovis defeated Portales for the tourney championship last year and the Lady Wildcats begin in Pool A with Aztec, Del Valle and West Las Vegas. The Lady Cats started their season with a home loss on Tuesday to Roswell High.
“I hope they’re more ready than when they played Roswell High the other night,” Ray said of his squad. “We started off pretty well, but we fizzled badly.”