It took the Clovis High Lady Wildcats the minimum three sets to finish off another District 4-5A tournament championship Saturday night.
This time, though, they got a pretty stiff battle from Carlsbad before turning back the Cavegirls 25-21, 25-19, 25-23 at Rock Staubus Gym.
Carlsbad (6-15) had leads in all three games, particularly the second and third. In the end, though, they just didn’t have enough to put the Lady Cats away.
“We knew it was going to be hard work,” Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “I thought that team battled really well, but we told our kids, ‘We’re going to be patient.’ We’re going to make some mistakes, but we’re going to take our swings.”
Sophomore Alek Mendoza had 10 kills and senior Antiesha Brown and sophomore Paige Gardner added nine for the Lady Cats (14-7). Meantime, senior setter Carissa Grummer compiled 39 assists and had all seven aces for Clovis.
Carlsbad, though, wouldn’t go quietly. The Cavegirls opened a 16-12 lead in the second game and went in front 18-12 in the third before Clovis rallied.
A passing error by the Cavegirls put Clovis in front 22-21 in the final set, and the Lady Cats never trailed again — although they needed a tip-kill by sophomore outside hitter Kirsti Shough on match point to end it.
“We were in all of these games,” Cavegirls coach Carrie Erickson said. “We just needed to finish.”
She said, in the end, experience made the difference.
“They’ve been here before,” Erickson said of the Lady Cats. “We’re getting there. I think this is probably the best we’ve played them this year.
“I’m extremely proud of our girls. We’re a completely different team than when we started in August. This program has a lot to look forward to.”
Marina Calderon had eight kills and 10 digs and Shannon Niemeir posted six kills and 14 digs for the Cavegirls.
Mendoza admitted the Lady Cats were a bit nervous at times.
“But each and every one of us stepped up,” she said. “It wasn’t like it was just one person. It was difficult, but we know we’re all capable.”
Ray said he anticipates the Lady Cats will be seeded somewhere between sixth and ninth for the start of pool play in this week’s 12-team Class 5A state tournament in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.