Portales opens with sweep of Hobbs

By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer

The Portales Lady Rams volleyball team began the 2007 season with a three-game sweep of the Hobbs Lady Eagles at the Portales High School gymnasium Tuesday night.

“I think it was a good start; we got all of our nerves out,” senior Bethany Self said. “We were just trying to be aggressive and getting back into the swing of things.”

Scores were 25-20, 25-16, 25-22 in favor of Portlaes.

The first game went back and forth for much of the game, as neither team achieved more than a two-point lead until the score was tied 20-20, when Portales scored five consecutive points, highlighted by a Tara Johnson dink and a Kassandra Short spike to close it out.

“I don’t know if it was the beginning-game jitters,” head coach Ruth Chavez said. “We lost our entire defense last year, and so our defense isn’t clicking yet, and that’s why I think you saw the errors.”

The Lady Rams took control early in the second game scoring nine of the first eleven points, and 16 of the first 21 points to take a 16-5 advantage. The Hobbs girls scored five in a row, but never got closer.

The Portales girls also appeared to run away with the third game, as the Lady Rams took a fast 11-3 lead, highlighted by demoralizing kills by senior Bethany Self, senior Vicki Huber and sophomore Jenna Wagner, but Hobbs fought back to 18-21. The Lady Eagles then won five of the next eight points and trailed 23-24, but committed a hitting error to hand Portales the win.

Chavez said even at this early point in the season, her team has clear strengths and weaknesses.

“I thought our hitting was pretty good,” Chavez said. “We’re trying to make our hitting to where we can run all kinds of different stuff at every position. And I think that’s going to happen for us. I think we have the people to do it. Right now, there’s still a lot of growing and a lot of learning to do.”

“Our defense is our weakness right now,” Chavez said. “But I do believe we have the girls to have a strong defense.”

Junior Tara Johnson was back after missing the entire 2006 season with a severe knee injury.

“It’s a big plus,” Chavez said. “Tara’s got a lot to learn because she’s had a year off, but she’s an athlete and she’s a competitor, so anytime you have her on your team (it’s a plus).”

The Lady Rams (1-0) travel to the Clovis volleyball tournament Friday and Saturday.