By Dave Wagner
The Portales Lady Rams badly needed a confidence boost, and they finally got one Tuesday night.
Down and almost out several times, the Lady Rams rallied for the final six points in Game 4, then finished out the match on a 9-1 run to upend rival Lovington 23-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 15-12 in a District 4-3A clash at the PHS gym.
“I think this was a confidence boost for us,” PHS coach Ruth Chavez said after her squad (4-11, 1-1 district) snapped a seven-match losing streak. “It was a battle, but we really needed a win.”
Trailing 2-1 in games and 22-19, the Lady Rams regained possession on a kill by freshman Bethany Self before closing out the Lady Wildcats (9-5, 0-1) with Rebekah Gonzales on the service line. Junior Megan Kabrick put away the final point after Lovington committed four consecutive attack errors.
Then, trailing 11-6 in the finale, junior Morgan Hill converted a quick-set kill from setter Ashleah Richards. Except for a kill by junior Jenna Domzalski which tied it 12-12, the Lady Wildcats did not score again.
Kabrick followed with three consecutive kills, including a tip away from the defense for the final point.
Despite the loss, Lovington coach LaJeana Stroh said the match should help her team.
“It was a disappointing loss,” she said. “But I think the girls did a good job. This should help build their confidence.
“We definitely had chances, but sometimes we just didn’t take advantage of them.”
Hill had 16 kills and two blocks for Portales, while Kabrick collected 15 kills and four service aces.
“I think this will help everybody be more confident,” PHS senior Stefanie Sharrock said. “We wanted to win it bad. We struggled, but we came back tonight and did great.”
Portales built leads of 9-3 in each of the first two games, but they didn’t last long. Lovington won the first game when PHS made consecutive misplays with the score 23-23, but the Lady Rams got the final four points of game two — two on kills by Kabrick and the final point on an ace by senior Tana Prewitt.
Lovington pulled even 5-5 on consecutive aces by Domzalski in the third game, then steadily pulled away. The Lady Wildcats appeared ready to finish out the match in the next game, leading 21-16, but a hitting error helped give the momentum back to Portales.
The win avenged a setback to Lovington in the season-opening Clovis Invitational.
“I think whenever we get down, we play with our hearts,” said Sharrock, who contributed five kills and a service ace. “We needed a win, and we just played with passion. And our defense was so much better tonight.”
Domzalski was a major factor for Lovington with 10 kills, five blocks and five aces. Senior Andrea Jarnigan added 10 kills and three aces, while senior Monique Perez contributed nine kills.
The Portales junior varsity improved to 10-3 in the preliminary with a 25-6, 25-22 win over Lovington.
Portales 3, Lovington 2
Lovington 25 23 25 22 12
Portales 23 25 18 25 15
Kills — Lovington, Jenna Domzalski 10, Andrea Jarnigan 10, Monique Perez 9, Crystal Marquez 6. Portales, Morgan Hill 16, Megan Kabrick 15, Ashleah Richards 8. Blocks — Lovington, Domzalski 5, Whitney Choate 1, Perez 1. Portales, Hill 2, Kabrick 1. Aces — Lovington, Domzalski 5, Jarnigan 3, Danielle Olivas 3. Portales, Kabrick 4, Tana Prewitt 3, Whitney Miller 2. Records — Lovington 9-5 (0-1), Portales 4-11 (1-1).