By Eric Butler: PNT Correspondent
They’ve played common opponents and they’ve even been in the same tournament. But Tuesday night, the Clovis and Portales volleyball teams finally played each other.
And the Lady Rams have every intention of filing away the come-from-behind 13-25, 18-25, 25-16, 25-21, 17-15 victory at Rock Staubus Gym for a whole year.
Since no second match is scheduled this year in Portales, Clovis (3-3) will have to turn to other goals than beating its smaller southern rival.
“It’s the first time we’ve beaten Clovis since 2000. It is a big win for us, it’s a big deal,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said. “We’re going to grab it and get out of here.”
The match appeared headed for an early outcome as the Lady Wildcats won the first two games convincingly.
But the senior duo of Megan Kabrick and Morgan Hill began to start winning battles at the net for Portales (5-2) in the third game.
A pair of kills by Kabrick helped Portales to a quick 6-1 start in the third game. The Lady Rams eventually opened up a 13-3 gap en route to a game-three win.
In the fourth game, Clovis had a 20-18 lead before Portales scored five straight points — including kills by Kabrick and sophomore Bethany Self — to take command late.
“We pretty much knew where they were going most of the time and we just had to be scrappier,” Self said. “We are a comeback team, so we play hard.
“Beating Clovis, nobody thought we could.”
For the deciding fifth game, it was no mystery what Clovis’ strategy was as the Lady Cats went to senior Aimee Hilburn repeatedly. Five straight kills by Hilburn, including two left-handed, put Clovis up 6-1.
“Our goal was just to get Aimee to the back row,” Chavez said. “When she was on the back row, we made some things happen.
“They were smart — I’d go to her, too.”
Portales, however, finally drew even at 8-8 on a lift call against the Lady Cats. Later, Clovis evaded one match point when a kill by senior Brittany Blackmon tied the game at 15-15.
But a bad pass followed by a bad set clinched the victory for the visitors.
“I think we just failed to execute nearly as well as we had the first two games,” Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “From the point when the second game finished, we just didn’t pass nearly as well. When we didn’t get a good first attack, they brought it back hard.
“They’re a good offensive team and you can’t give them that kind of opportunity.”