By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
CLOVIS — Portales seemingly had a handle on Tuesday’s volleyball match against Clovis High, but almost let it get away.
Then senior Kristen Wagner finished off a dominating performance with three kills, a block and an ace in the deciding set as the Lady Rams notched a 25-21, 25-21, 16-25, 24-26, 15-11 at Rock Staubus Gym.
PHS came out flat in the third set, got behind quickly and had a tough time regaining the momentum it had enjoyed throughout the first two games.
“The third game, we just dug ourselves a hole,” Wagner said. “We had to regain the momentum. When you get down like that, it makes it tough.
“When you get down to the last set, it comes down to who’s focused and can take hold of that game. I felt we did a good job of that.”
Wagner collected a match-high 16 kills to go with four blocks and eight aces. Senior Savannah Vincent came on strong late to finish with nine kills, while senior Simone Laurenz had three of her four aces in the final set for the Lady Rams (6-1).
“The main thing is we got the win,” Lady Rams coach Ruth Chavez said. “It would’ve been nice to get it in three (sets), but we just couldn’t get any big runs going.”
Senior Sydney Romero led the Lady Cats with 11 kills and four blocks, while senior Kyleigh Guthals added seven kills, 11 digs and four aces.
“I think the girls feel like they have nothing to show for the effort they put into the (match),” CHS coach Gabe Apodaca said. “The biggest thing we got out of it was we were down two games against a very good team, and we were able to take them to a Game 5.”
Apodaca said his team competed fairly well.
“Overall, I’m disappointed in the outcome, but not with how we played,” he said, noting his squad had been off for 10 days since playing in a tournament at El Paso.
Tied 4-4, a Clovis service error and an ace by Wagner got the Lady Rams going in the first set. The Lady Wildcats (2-3) pulled even late, but a kill by sophomore Kambrey Blakey put PHS up for good 22-21 and started a set-ending 4-0 run.
Portales never trailed in the second game, although Clovis kept it close all the way. Then the Lady Rams fell behind 13-4 in the third set, capped by four consecutive errors.
The Lady Cats ran off seven points in the fourth set to take a 7-3 lead, but Portales countered with a 9-0 run to go in front 14-8, getting three kills from Wagner during that stretch.
Down 20-17, CHS pulled even at 21-21 on a kill by Guthals. With the score 24-24, the Lady Cats forced a fifth set on kills by senior Shea Mahan and Romero.
Laurenz opened the final set with an ace, and the Lady Rams maintained the lead from there. At 10-7, PHS regained possession on a Clovis service error and finished it out with Laurenz getting two aces and Wagner another kill.
“We got on top in the fifth set and didn’t give them a chance to gain momentum,” Wagner said.