By Jesse Wolfersberger: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — Knowing Socorro was going to take away the middle, Portales used the outside to move on to the next round.
Four Lady Rams had nine or more kills as Portales swept Socorro 25-20, 25-22, 25-19 in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament Thursday at La Cueva High School.
“I thought our two outside hitters Bethany Self and Briana Hernandez played great,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said. “I told them when we came into the tournament that people would focus on our middle, so we went outside and I thought those two were amazing.”
Self had nine kills and Hernandez had 10.
“She had been telling us pretty much the whole season to be ready for state,” Self said. “So me and Bri just stepped it up. I feel good, I hope we can keep doing it. I really want to win this.”
The match was the last of the night and started more than an hour past the scheduled 8:15 p.m. start time.
“We were so ready to play,” Self said. “We wanted to beat them as fast as we could.”
The Lady Rams were threatened in each game, but cranked their play up a notch and finished of the Warriors in each.
“I thought it was a pretty good match, they fought hard,” Chavez said. “It’s a late night. We have waited all day. It’s been a long wait for this match, but I thought they fought hard — and they had to to win this match.”
Portales’ Megan Kabrick had a game-high 12 kills followed by Morgan Hill with 11. Ashleah Richards added 15 assists for the Lady Rams.
Audra Major led the Warriors with 7 kills, three digs, and three blocks. Victora Zamora filled the stat sheet with five assists, four kills, two blocks, two aces, and a dig.
With its 11th-straight victory, Portales (20-3) moved to 11-0 against Class 3A and 2-0 against Socorro. During its streak, Portales has won seven matches via three-game sweeps.
Portales’ last defeat came Sept. 20 at Roswell, which advanced to today’s Class 4A semifinals with a sweep against Farmington.
The Lady Rams, who were eliminated in the Class 3A semifinals last year, can reach their fifth state championship match in six seasons with a win against West Las Vegas, which defeated St. Michael’s in five games. Portales claimed sweeps over West Las Vegas Aug. 26 at the Wildcat Invitational in Clovis (25-14, 25-23, 25-17) and Sept. 3 at Las Vegas (25-21, 25-15, 25-23).
Friday’s winner will play Saturday for the state championship at 1 p.m. against either Pojoaque or Thoreau. The Lady Elks reached the semifinals with a four-set win over Santa Fe Indian School, while Thoreau swept past Bloomfield.