Portales sweeps Lovington

By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer

With nothing to actually play for, Portales’ volleyball team chose Thursday night to make a statement.

With the top spot in the District 4-3A tournament already in hand, Portales cruised to a 25-12, 25-12, 25-9 sweep against Lovington in its final regular season district match.

Portales (16-3) needed just 55 minutes to close out a perfect 4-0 district mark and win its seventh-straight match. Portales will close out the regular season Saturday at home against Dexter, then be off for a week until the District 4-3A championship, set for 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at the PHS Gym.

The Lady Rams will host either Ruidoso or Lovington. Those two teams will match up Saturday at Lovington to determine tournament seeding and again Thursday for the right to play Portales.

“We just have to play aggressive (Saturday),” Lovington coach LaJeana Stroh said. “We really didn’t show up at all when we went to play at Ruidoso.”

Lovington could never get too much going against Portales, Stroh felt, because the Lady Rams jumped out to a great start with its offense.

“You try to attack them before they attack you,” Stroh said. “If we can get them before they get us, that’s our game plan.”

It never really went that way for the Lady Wildcats. Lovington (5-14, 0-3) only led at three points through the entire match — all one-point advantage early in the second game — and never seriously challenged Portales. Jenna Domzalski led Lovington with eight kills, but none of her teammates had more than two.

Meanwhile, Portales was led by Morgan Hill and Megan Kabrick with nine kills each. During a 10-3 run midway through the second game, Hill unleashed a hard kill against Lovington. The Lady Wildcats set a double block on Hill, and Portales simply went to Bethany Self for an easy kill and a 22-12 lead.

“I thought everyone played with a lot of confidence tonight,” Self said. “I wanted to beat them in three.”

Portales all but ensured a sweep as Montana Russell and Amanda Terry helped serve the Lady Rams through a 13-2 run in the third game.

Of Portales’ 16 wins, nine have come through a three-game sweep. Only Class 4A Roswell and Class 1A Tatum — which hasn’t lost a game yet — account for Portales’ two defeats by sweep.

For the most part, Portales coach Ruth Chavez feels like her team is getting off to good starts in each match.

“We have to learn to come out strong and take control of games,” Chavez said. “We wanted to take control and never let them into the game.”

The junior varsity also won in a sweep with scores of 25-20, 25-18 to push its season record to 11-5 with a 4-0 district record.