By Kevin Wilson
Two down, one to go.
For the Portales volleyball team, it’s not one season. It’s three. There is the pre-district schedule, the district season, and there’s the playoffs.
The Lady Rams ended season one with a 6-10 record last week and ended season two on Thursday with a 25-22, 27-25, 25-21 sweep against District 4-3A rival Lovington at the PHS gym.
Season three starts Nov. 1 as Portales (10-10, 4-0 in district) hosts the district championship at 7 p.m. and will be four wins away from the Class 3A state championship.
“Four and zero is all that matters,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said. “We left the (regular season record) a long time ago. We’re 0-0 starting our third season and our most important one.”
The host Lady Rams ended the district regular season on a solid note, making late runs to put away each of the three games against the visiting Lady Wildcats.
Portales got 12 kills from Erika Cook and nine each from sophomores Megan Kabrick and Morgan Hill, as the offense gave Lovington troubles all night.
“They have a quick game,” Lovington coach Melissa Frazier said of the Lady Rams. “They stayed at us the whole time.”
Frazier, who moved up from the assistant ranks after Kristy Hill took a job at Clovis High School, said consistency for Portales and a lack of such for Lovington were the determining factors in each game’s late run.
“We play well, we get a bit of momentum and then we play back on our heels and let them back in,” Frazier said. “We just can’t seem to keep them down.”
Portales held a 24-17 lead late in the second game, but Melissa Marquez served the Lady Wildcats (12-9, 1-2) through a shocking 8-0 run and game point at 25-24.
The Lady Rams reeled off the last three points as senior Kassandra Richards set up Hill on a quick-hit to tie the game. Junior Ashleah Richards blocked a kill attempt by Monique Perez to give Portales game point, and Kassandra Richards sealed it with an ace down the middle.
“I was so happy to play with my sister. She played well,” said Kassandra Richards, “With Amy (Archibeque) down, we didn’t know what we were going to do. We were able to go to Ashleah and we all have confidence in her.”
Chavez said Archibeque had an MRI to check on a possible posterior cruciate ligament tear, suffered in Saturday’s win at Ruidoso. Chavez thought that the younger Richards did a more than adequate job in relief.
“I thought Ashleah Richards stepped up and did a good job,” Chavez said. “(Setter) is the toughest position to step into and she did a good job.”
Portales is idle until next Saturday, while Lovington hosts Ruidoso on Saturday.
Perez had six kills and a block to lead Lovington.