By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
In its last match against Goddard, Portales had trouble with the way it started.
This time around, the Lady Rams opened strong and struggled at the finish, but the late struggles did nothing to spoil an otherwise easy 25-16, 25-16, 25-20 sweep Tuesday night at Portales High.
The win puts Portales at 11-3 on the season, with district play just around the corner.
Portales needed four games two weeks ago against the Lady Rockets for a 12-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19 win, but built huge leads early in the first and second games Tuesday, then fought off a scrappy third-game effort from Goddard.
“Today, we wanted to come out and sweep Goddard,” senior Rebekah Gonzales said. “It starts us off for a good week with West (Las Vegas) Thursday and Ruidoso Saturday.”
Goddard coach Bobby Bates felt Portales did a good job of setting the tone early, and the Class 4A Lady Rockets (4-9) could never really recover against one of Class 3A’s best teams.
“I think for them, they’ve got a strong middle attack with Megan (Kabrick) and Morgan (Hill),” Bates said.
“Defensively, they’re scrappy and they serve aggressively.
“When our offense doesn’t match that, our defense plays the whole night and it opens up things for them.”
Portales coach Ruth Chavez said that slow starts have been a real struggling point early in the season, and they’ve geared practices towards that theme.
“We’ve had a problem of where we lose the first game or the first two,” Chavez said. “That concerns me if you’re playing against teams that are really tough.”
It was a quick evening for all involved, as the Portales junior varsity also swept with a 25-16, 25-20 victory.
After Thursday’s road match against West Las Vegas — who Portales swept at the Wildcat Invitational in Clovis — the Lady Rams will be back home Saturday to open up district play.
Gonzales felt that Portales would spend most of its limited practice time working on serve-receive and passing until then.
“Everything starts with the pass, no matter what,” Gonzales said, “so that’s where we have to be perfect.”
All teams will have a clean slate once district play starts, but Chavez is confident that the Portales team that plays in district will be as good at the 11-3 team that is about to end the non-district schedule.
Chavez felt that this year’s team is the best she’s had in her five years as Portales head coach — high praise considering two of her previous teams won state championships.
“I’ve had good hitters, I’ve had good defensive players,” Chavez said, “but all around, we’re the most solid I’ve seen.”
Saturday’s match, originally set for a 2 p.m. junior varsity start, will instead begin with junior varsity play at 11:30 a.m. due to a scheduling conflict for Ruidoso.