Even with a 2-0 game lead and a working margin in the third, the Clovis volleyball team didn’t feel entirely comfortable Saturday in the best-of-five championship match at the Clovis Invitational volleyball tournament.
That’s because the opponent, Lubbock Christian, had come back from similar circumstances to knock off Academy in the semifinals.
But there would be no comeback this time as Wildcats (4-0) won the 16-team tournament for a fourth year in a row with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-23 victory over the Eagles.
Meanwhile, Portales knocked off district rival Dexter 25-16, 25-18, 25-20 in the seventh-place game of the championship bracket.
“We did let them get a little close, but we pulled it out,” said Clovis senior setter Carissa Grummer. “The passing was good, the hitting was good.”
Antiesha Brown led the ‘Cats with 14 kills and was Clovis’ biggest threat throughout the tournament. Brown and Clovis sophomore Paige Gardner were selected to the all-tourney team.
Earlier in the day, the Wildcats also swept St. Michael’s 25-19, 25-18, 25-14 to advance to the finals.
With Brown, Gardner, Alek Mendoza, Carmella Caltagirone presenting a big block up front, the hitters for smaller Lubbock Christian (9-3) had difficulty adjusting.
The Eagles, however, had to go through equally large blocks, in a quarterfinal win over Denver City, Texas, and the semi victory over Academy, to get to the finals.
“We heard they were very scrappy. They had been picking up everything,” Brown said. “So we just had to do something different than the other teams were doing.”
“Certainly, a big block from Antiesha is tough,” Lubbock Christian coach Alan Williams said. “But we had a big block with Denver City too. I really think we were worn out emotionally and physically.”
Against Academy, the Eagles trailed 18-11 in the third and the Chargers also had two match points in that game before Lubbock Christian fought its way back in a five-game match.
Clovis led 24-20 in the third game before allowing three straight Eagles’ points to make it a one-point margin. But the ‘Cats got a kill from Brown to put an end to the match.
The Lady Rams final day started with Denver City and standout junior Breeann David — daughter of former Tucumcari High and Texas Tech football standout Stan David.
David was named the tournament MVP and her Fillies were battled by Portales (2-2) Saturday morning at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Denver City eventually overcame the Rams in five by a 16-25, 25-19, 26-28, 25-20, 15-6 count.
“I thought it was good for us. We were on the tough side of the bracket, but playing Academy and Denver City was good,” said Portales coach Ruth Chavez.
Macy Mitchell, a sophomore middle blocker for the Rams, after the final match of Portales’ day, was still hankering for another shot at Denver City and David.
“Our last game (vs. the Fillies), we weren’t really prepared, but all the others we were,” Mitchell said. “They have one really good hitter (David), but we could stop her. If we played them again, I think we would.”
Jenna Wagner of Portales was named to the all-tournament team.