By Eric Butler
The Portales Lady Rams got a strong dose during this weekend’s Clovis volleyball invitational of what may be its toughest competition in Class 3A as the Rams try to defend their state title.
Rio Rancho, the reigning champ in 5A, won the overall title with a 21-25, 25-15, 25-15, 25-22 victory over Santa Fe on Saturday night at Rock Staubus gymnasium. Host Clovis finished seventh overall while Portales, in the consolation bracket, won one match over Grants and then fell to Lovington to end up 14th in the field.
While it did not face West Las Vegas, Portales did face St. Michael’s, Grants and Lovington in match play before the invitational at Rock Staubus gymnasium ended.
St. Michael’s defeated the Lady Rams 19-25, 25-18, 25-20, 27-29, 15-7 in a five-game marathon before Portales bounced back to knock off Grants.
In the final contest of the day, Portales lost 25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 25-13 to district rival Lovington.
“That was good to see them early,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said of playing the Rams’ Class 3A counterparts. “But we struggled quite a bit.”
Morgan Hill, a junior middle blocker for the Lady Rams, was selected to the all-tournament team. Hill and outside hitter Megan Kabrick, another junior, were the primary hitting weapons for Portales during the tourney.
Chavez said she was also working out a two-person rotation at the setter position between junior Ashleah Richards and ninth-grader Whitney Miller.
“She’s our freshman and working on a freshman to bring her up as a setter — it isn’t an easy thing for her,” Chavez said of Miller. “But she’s doing a good job.”