By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
Visiting Wingate wouldn’t go down without a fight. Host Portales wouldn’t go down, period.
Top-ranked Portales advanced to the second round of the state volleyball tournament Saturday afternoon with a somewhat difficult 25-16, 25-19, 25-8 sweep of 16th-seeded Wingate at Portales High School.
With its 10th-straight win, Portales (19-3) advances to pool play of the Class 3A tournament, set to start Wednesday evening at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque.
Wingate’s season ends at 2-16 after the Bears received second life with the playoff selection.
“We were excited,” Wingate coach Jennifer Gillson said. “We knew we had to travel, but the travel was worth it.”
To its credit, Wingate made things difficult in the 57-minute match with short serves and stayed competitive until Portales took control late in the second game and carried momentum to the third game.
There was little panic on the Portales sidelines when Wingate’s Charlena Yazzie rolled off three-straight service aces in the first game, or when the Lady Bears jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the second game.
Nor was there much celebration when Portales scored the final point on a block by Morgan Hill, who had nine kills for the Lady Rams. When the seeding was announced on Sunday.
“I think we played good. I think we can play better than that,” Portales freshman Tara Johnson said. “I think they played better that they did the first time.”
Portales defeated Wingate in the Zia Classic in Roswell, also in a sweep. Like that match, Ruth Chavez felt Saturday’s match dragged out a little bit.
“I think they did as good against us as Lovington and Ruidoso did,” Chavez said. “We played kind of sluggish.
“It was hard to play our game against them. Morgan helped us a lot.”
Whenever Portales got behind, it could always go to Hill or Megan Kabrick, who led Portales with 16 kills. Wingate had few options on offense and the roof eventually caved in on the Lady Bears.
“We knew exactly what was coming,” Gillson said. “I’m glad we didn’t just give it to them.”
For the moment, Portales is where it wants to be.
Gillson expects Portales, now 10-0 against Class 3A schools, to do well in Albuquerque as well.
“It’s anybody’s game at this time of year, but Portales has a deep bench and a lot of talent,” she said. “I know they’ll go far.”