Lady Rams strong in sweep of Lovington

By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer

The Portales Lady Rams started and finished strong in sweeping the Lovington Lady Wildcats in District 4-3A volleyball Tuesday evening at Portales 25-18, 25-18, 25-23.

Portales’ victory sets up a Saturday night showdown against district leader Ruidoso that will decide the regular season district champion.

“I thought we played pretty solid,” Lady Ram volleyball coach Ruth Chavez said. “I thought we had a few moments there where we should not have — we had a few hitting errors and a few passing errors that shouldn’t have happened. They were just little errors but they should have been taken care of. Other than that, it was a pretty solid game.”

“I thought we played good,” Portales junior Tara Johnson said. “The third game we didn’t play as good as we should have.”

Lovington took a 5-3 lead in Game 1, before the Lady Rams won three straight points and kept the momentum for the rest of the game, winning 25-18.

The second game stayed close through the midway point, as Lovington kept pace with the Portales girls at 11-11, before the Lady Rams took 15 of the final 22 points to also win the second game 25-18.

Lovington (6-14, 1-5) was in control for most of the third game before Portales scored five of the next seven points. But Lovington once again took control of the game, regaining the lead, and running their advantage to 15-10. Again, the Lady Rams finished strong, as senior outside hitter Bethany Self contributed four kills, and Portales won a close third game 25-23, and swept the match three games to none.

“Coach was pretty happy that we won and she was talking a lot about Saturday’s game (against Ruidoso).”

“We could be a scrappy team,” Chavez said. “Dallas (Russell) makes that team scrappy. She goes for everything and when you have a kid like that that goes for everything, the other kids tend to do that too.”

The Lady Rams (12-6, 4-1) host the Lady Warriors Saturday night at the Portales High School gymnasium. Since Ruidoso is undefeated in district (The Lady Warriors gave Portales their only district loss) Portales needs a win in order to activate various tie-breaker scenarios.

“If we go five with Ruidoso and we win, it’s going to come down to points. If we can beat Ruidoso in less than five, than we’ll have the district (championship) at home next week,” Chavez said. “Saturday’s a huge thing. We’re trying to get as many people as we can out. We had good fans tonight, just a really good group, so hopefully we’ll have that again.”

“We’re pretty confident,” Johnson said. “We just think if we get the first game, that will be big and if we win than we’ll get it done. And if the boys yell like they did tonight, than we’ll definitely get it done.”

“We’re going to have to play,” Chavez said. “Ruidoso’s a lot better team than Lovington. So you’re not going to be able to have the errors and some of the things that happened with us tonight or they’ll take advantage. Our goal is to jump out on Ruidoso and take it from Game 1 and hopefully we can get the win.”