By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
Dexter’s biggest mistake Saturday night may have been winning the second game against Portales.
After playing the visiting Lady Demons close in the opening two games, Portales unleashed a 25-3 blitz in the third game and held off a small Dexter run in the fourth to claim a 25-15, 23-25, 25-3, 25-19 non-district victory at the Portales High School gym.
Portales closes the regular season with a 17-3 record and an eight-match winning streak. The non-district match also served as somewhat of a preview for the 2006 season, when Dexter is realigned into District 4-3A for volleyball and basketball.
With Clovis and Portales only playing once this season, Portales had an open game on its schedule, and Dexter coach Sally Knight said she didn’t need much convincing to take that game.
“We wanted to play Portales because we’re going to be in 3A next year,” Knight said. “We wanted our younger kids to see what it takes next year. To win a game is big.”
After the Lady Rams claimed a 25-15 win that was closer than the score indicated, Dexter turned a 22-22 second-game tie into a win with two kills from Krystal Banda and two Portales hitting errors.
From that point on, fortunes changed for both Portales and Dexter (11-9).
“I told (the players after the second game) you can’t play point-for-point with a team because once you get in the 20s, you never know,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said. “We started playing their game — we’d score a point, they’d score a point — and things fell their way.”
Things came right back to Portales in the third game, as Ashleah Richards, Briana Hernandez and Tori Teague served Portales to leads of 8-0, 15-1 and 18-2, respectively.
By the time a Morgan Hill spike ended the game, Portales had not even gotten through a full rotation — Chavez doesn’t recall ever winning or losing a game in that scenario.
Aside from the third game, all indications were that Dexter had played like a formidable district foe already.
“I thought they came back and played all right (in the fourth game),” Chavez said. “I don’t know what they have next year, but I thought they’d be fine (in District 4-3A this season).”
For Dexter, playing what will certainly be one of Class 3A’s top seeds in the state tournament was a great learning experience as the Lady Demons get set to host Loving Tuesday.
“We won’t be playing a team with as many big girls as (Portales has),” Knight said. “It was positive.”
Hill led Portales with 14 kills, while Megan Kabrick had 12 — including the final kill on Portales’ third chance at match point. Lydia Chavez led a balanced attack for Dexter with six kills.
Portales will host either Ruidoso or Lovington Saturday for the district championship with a 7 p.m. gametime. Tickets are $5 each and season passes will not be accepted.