Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
The Portales volleyball team has had to deal with two unfamiliar things for the last week — not playing, and being at home.
A 10-day break in District 4-3A play will conclude Saturday when Portales (15-3, 2-0 district) heads down to Ruidoso. Portales would clinch the top spot in the district tournament with a win Saturday.
Portales has logged plenty of wins this season, and plenty more miles with its schedule. The Lady Rams have been at home for only three matches this year, so Portales coach Ruth Chavez felt a break was well-timed.
After a few days of rest, it was right back to practice. Part of that includes a few new drills to help the team keep its edge.
One drill, senior setter Ashleah Richards said, features the players having to take on a slew of balls thrown in quick succession. During a five-minute frenzy, the players have a goal of completing 100 good passes.
“We’ve only got to 62 so far,” Richards admits, “but we’ve only done (the drill) three times.”
With each drill and scrimmage completed, the team knows it can’t rest on its laurels — the Lady Rams are happy to be 15-3, but they know most Class 3A teams would be even happier to be Portales’ fourth defeat.
“Everyone’s out to beat us,” Richards said. “We have a big target on us because they see the potential we have.”
Most are hoping that potential has peaked for Portales, which entered the break after a four-game win over Lovington, its fifth-straight triumph and second district win.
Portales’ losses this season have come to Bel Air at the Clovis Invitational, to Class 1A power Tatum in a neutral-site match and to 4A Roswell on the road.
Recently, Portales’ only losses have been single-game setbacks in matches that were otherwise convincing wins. Ruidoso took a game from Portales in the district opener for both teams Oct. 1, but Portales responded and easily closed out the 25-11, 25-15, 23-25, 25-10 win.
Chavez expects the Lady Warriors to be much better at home and much better after two weeks of practice.
“I expect them to be better,” Chavez said. “I think them taking us to four games gave them a little bit of confidence.”
After Saturday’s match, Portales will have a smaller break — four days — before hosting Lovington Oct. 20 and Dexter Oct. 22 to close the regular season.