By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
The Portales Lady Rams scored eight of the last nine points to win a decisive fifth game 15-11 to beat Artesia three games to two, in a back-and-forth match Thursday night in Portales.
The scores were 25-19, 14-25, 25-19, 18-25, 15-11.
“We were too up-and-down,” Portales head coach Ruth Chavez said. “That’s why it went to five games.”
“We did good,” sophomore outside hitter Jenna Wagner said. “We had a lot of ups and downs.”
Artesia opened the first game with a 15-8 lead, but the two teams played to a 16-16 tie midway through the game. The Lady Rams collected 17 of the final 21 points to take the first game 25-19.
After a 7-7 tie early in the second game, the Lady Bulldogs dominated on the way to a 25-14 Game 2 win to tie the match.
The Portales girls took their turn dominating late in the third game. After Artesia took a 17-11 lead midway through the game, the Lady Rams scored on 14 of the next 16 points to win the third game 25-19.
The Artesia girls started the fourth game strong taking a fast 9-0 lead. The Lady Bulldogs maintained their lead and appeared to cruise to an easy victory with a 22-9 advantage. Portales fought back, scoring nine of 10 points, but the Artesia girls won the fourth game 25-18, before Portales took the match with Game 5.
“We came back (in Game 5) and took it to them,” Chavez said. “That was good. It comes down, in the fifth game, usually to who plays with the least amount of fear.”
According to Chavez, the Lady Rams don’t have fear, but they are inconsistent.
“We played really well at times and then we played really bad and there was no telling when it was going to come. We’ve got some focus things that have to get better,” Chavez said.
That inconsistent play, has Chavez a bit worried.
“It’s a concern,” Chavez said. “As time goes on, and as we start playing teams within our district and get up to the state tournament, you can’t do that. You’ve got to have game after game where you’re playing at the top of your game.”
“It’s good for us that we came out and won this,” Wagner said. “But we need to just focus on getting out ahead first, and jumping on the other team fast.”
Chavez also believes her defense, a team weakness early in the season, is coming along.
“I think it’s getting better,” Chavez said. “I think there were times where we still struggled but I thought it was better tonight. It will get there.”