By Kevin Wilson
In 2002, these were the matches that Roswell would invariably give away.
In the late hours of Tuesday night, it became the type of match the Lady Coyotes somehow won, and the Portales Lady Rams somehow lost.
Roswell won its season opener with a roller coaster five-set win over Portales.
“My kids are really excited,” Roswell coach Bryan Masse said, “because we were 4-16 last year. We were in a lot of those games where we could have won.”
Roswell did give Portales (1-4) a few chances to capitalize in its home opener, but inconsistent passing made it difficult for the Lady Rams to mount any serious run in the 25-16, 21-25, 25-19, 22-25, 16-14 loss.
Setters Amy Archibeque and Kassandra Richards rarely got an opportunity to set from five feet of the net, and the Portales hitters suffered throughout.
“I thought (our) passing was horrible,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said, “and we thought that was our strength two weeks ago.”
Portales might have been swept if not for senior Ryo Fujikawa jump-starting a 15-1 run midway through the second game. With Roswell up 1-0 in the match and 16-8 in the second game, Portales regained the serve with a kill from Richards and Fujikawa served the Lady Rams through the next eight points.
By the time Roswell was back on its game, Portales had built a substantial 23-18 lead.
Roswell had a chance to finish the Lady Rams off in four, but could not complete a comeback from a 19-11 deficit. Portales led 24-22 after two dropped passes, then won it when Roswell failed to play a serve that grazed the net.
The fifth game was tight throughout, with neither team leading by more than four . Portales had a chance to steal the victory — with the final stanza tied 13-13, Fujikawa serving and Roswell senior middle blocker Tera Martinez stuck on the bench.
Two volleys in, though, the Lady Rams dropped a pass to give Roswell match point and the chance to substitute Martinez back onto the front row. Martinez, a four-year varsity member, finished off the match despite mistiming the spike and settling for a tip kill.
Masse expects to see a different team when Portales comes to Roswell next weekend for the Zia Classic.
“Portales is doing a lot of things (that will cause them) to make some mistakes,” Masse said, “but once they get those things ironed out, they’re going to be a pretty good team.”
For now, Portales will get set for Artesia on the road Saturday. Chavez, who admitted being “at a loss for words” after the match, knew exactly what was coming in the next few practices.
“We’re going back to basics, back to fundamentals,” Chavez said. “That’s what’s killing us.”
In the junior varsity match, Portales defeated Roswell 25-20, 25-22.