With the District 4-5A regular-season title already clinched, the Clovis High volleyball team was able to use Saturday’s finale against Carlsbad as something of a tuneup.
The Lady Wildcats struggled at times, but eventually put the finishing touches on a 25-16, 18-25, 25-16, 25-19 victory over Carlsbad at Rock Staubus Gym.
Senior outside hitter Lainey Flatow had 23 kills for Clovis (14-6, 4-0 district), while junior middle hitter Antiesha Brown added 12. Senior Meagan Baglien got a kill on match point to become the Lady Cats’ third player in double figures with 10.
“You can see this group definitely has the potential to win a big game, and that’s all you can hope for,” CHS coach Darrel Ray said. “Lainey did a good job of delivering, and Antiesha had a good day too.”
Still, Ray acknowledged he’s a bit concerned about the team’s occasional lapses. Clovis trailed virtually all the way in the second game, let much of a commanding lead slip away before nailing down the third game and then fell behind 8-0 before rallying in the fourth.
“It scares me a little when we flip the switch off,” Ray said. “We can get ourselves in trouble pretty quickly sometimes.
“From this point, we may not have the luxury of being a little more athletic or a little more experienced than the opponent.”
Carlsbad (6-11, 1-3), which hosts Hobbs next Thursday in the district tournament for the right to return to The Rock to face the Lady Cats in the finals at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Senior middle blocker Jordan Neatherlin had a solid match for the improving Cavegirls, collecting seven kills, five blocks and two aces. Outside hitters Michelle Carr and Marina Calderon each had eight kills.
“It’s totally helped that the players have had a year under me,” second-year Carlsbad coach Carrie Erickson said. “We’re a much better team than we were last year — we’re a better team than we were in September.”
The Cavegirls cut a 15-4 deicit to 21-16 in the third game as the Lady Cats struggled, but Clovis had enough cushion to hold on.
“We played well enough (early in Game 3) to give us that cushion,” said senior defensive specialist Adrianna Aguilar, who had 22 digs in the match. “We came back and did what we had to do.”
Then Calderon served three aces to help Carlsbad to fast start in the fourth game, but Clovis used a 7-0 run highlighted by two kills from Flatow and a kill and a block from freshman Alek Mendoza to take the lead for good.
“I think we played well,” Aguilar said. “I think we’re peaking at the right time.
“It’s a confidence-booster. I think we have a good chance to do well this year at state.”
Aguilar’s younger sister, Felicia, posted a match-high 28 digs and also led Clovis in aces with three.