By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
Nothing specific was really on the line when Clovis played Portales in volleyball on Thursday night at the Ram Athletic Center.
That doesn’t mean the teams didn’t go hard at each other in what amounted to a rubber match for the season. Staring at a likely 2-1 deficit in sets, the Lady Rams erased a late six-point deficit to take Game 3 and went on to finish a 25-23, 23-25, 27-25, 25-20 win over the Lady Wildcats.
Senior outside hitter Kristen Wagner compiled a match-high 12 kills to go with 18 digs as Portales (13-5) avenged a four-set home loss to the Lady Cats in its tournament in early October.
With both teams likely to dominate their respective districts, the Class 5A Lady Wildcats and the Class 3A Lady Rams treated it as preparation for postseason play.
“We knew it was going to be a big game for us,” PHS sophomore middle blocker Sheraya Cox said. “We wanted to start out aggressive and just play as hard as we could.”
Either team could’ve won in a sweep, which is an unlikely result in this series. Portales erased a 2-0 deficit to win in five earlier in Clovis before the Lady Cats dominated the finals of the Peyton Chavez Tournament of Champions at the RAC.
“They had something to prove, because last time we came in here and beat them pretty convincingly,” CHS coach Gabe Apodaca said. “It was a good opportunity for both of us to be tested going into our districts.”
Senior Savannah Vincent had seven kills for PHS, while senior Simone Laurenz compiled five kills and 19 digs and Cox added five kills and a team-high three blocks.
“Sheraya stepped up in the middle tonight,” Lady Rams coach Ruth Chavez said. “That’s been a spot where we’ve been waiting for someone to do that.
“People are going to try to shut Kristen down (in the postseason). I’ve been pushing our other kids to be aggressive; we don’t want to be a one-man team.”
The match pretty much went back-and-forth until the Lady Cats (11-7) went on a 14-4 run to get within two points of the third set at 23-17. Still down 25-24, Portales got two kills from Wagner on the final three points of the set.
“That was really the defining moment,” Apodaca said. “I really thought whoever won that game was going to win the match.”
The fourth set was tied 4-4 when the Lady Rams scored four consecutive points to take the lead for good.
“It was good to play someone that good,” Cox said. “It’s kind of what you’re going to see in the state tournament.”
Seniors Kyleigh Guthals and Shea Mahan had nine and eight kills, respectively, for Clovis. Senior Sydney Romero added seven kills, three blocks and two aces, while senior libero Andrea Aguilar had 28 digs.