By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
As season No. 2 started for the Portales volleyball team, it played like it was No. 1.
Portales cruised past Ruidoso 25-11, 25-15, 23-25, 25-10 in the District 4-3A opener for both teams Saturday afternoon.
In a matchup of the last two Class 3A state champions, the host Lady Rams jumped out to huge leads often and were never seriously threatened en route to their fourth-straight win.
The match, which was scheduled early in the afternoon to accomodate a previous Ruidoso committment, had a different feel about it, according to Portales senior Morgan Hill. With a smaller crowd available for the noon start and technical difficulties with the pre-game music, the win was the only thing that felt normal for Portales.
The streak puts Portales at 13-3, but they’re trying to think of themselves as 1-0 in what they call the second season. The first was pre-district play, the second is district play and the ensuing state volleyball tournament.
“Coach (Ruth Chavez) always tells us we have our first season and we have our second season,” Hill said. “We were just wanting to start our second season with a win. “
Portales, which plays a schedule full of Class 4A and 5A teams, usually doesn’t enter district play with an impressive record. Chavez admitted it was more difficult to forget this preseason than others, but it doesn’t change the philosophy.
“I tell them every match the first season sets us up for the second,” Chavez said. We’re proud of our record, but we know it starts all over and we know these are the games that really count.”
Portales got its second season off to a rousing start, jumping out to an 8-0 first game lead against Ruidoso (4-8, 0-1 district) and generally dominating the play at the net.
The only hiccups for Portales came in the third game, as Ruidoso rallied for a 9-2 lead and survived a furious rally from the hosts. Portales reeled off 5-0 and 6-0 runs to take a 21-19 lead, but Ruidoso sealed the victory with six of the final eight points.
“We had service errors early on. When we finally got it together, we had too much of a deficit,” Chavez said. “That’s positive proof anybody can beat you.”
If there was a time to do it, it would be now for Ruidoso. Coach Steve Brown said his team is progressing after dropping its first six matches of the season, and is now 1-1 in Class 3A — the Warriors needed four games to defeat 4-3A rival Lovington at the Zia Classic in Roswell.
Still, he admits his team is nowhere near Portales at this point.
“They’re an outstanding volleyball team,” Brown said. “I was impressed with the way they responded to losing the third game. They came back and put the screws to us in the fourth game.
“I voted Portales No. 1 in the Albuquerque Journal poll. I think they’re the best team in 3A. We’ve got a month to elevate our game to beat them.”
Portales will face Lovington Tuesday on the road, then be off until an Oct. 15 match at Ruidoso. Ruidoso hosts Raton Thursday and Lovington Saturday.
The Portales junior varsity also won, upping its record to 8-5 with the 25-23, 25-14 victory.