Currently in the middle of the District 4-3A schedule, Portales volleyball coach Ruth Chavez thinks this team is a lot like her squad last year at the same point in the season.
That’s probably a good thing, considering last year the Lady Rams peaked toward the end of the season culminating in a Class 3A state championship.
“We tend to keep getting better and better until the end,” said Chavez, who has lead Portales to five state titles in the last eight years. “The end is when it really counts.”
The Portales girls are 2-0 in district play, and have won four straight matches — the most recent of which was a three-game sweep of Lovington Monday night.
“We had a heck of a game (Monday night),” Chavez said. “(We) played well.”
In their last four matches, the Lady Rams have dominated, losing only one game out of the 12 they’ve played — and sweeping Artesia, Dexter and Lovington.
Chavez points out, however, that September was a rough patch for the team — losing five consecutive matches, and taking just two of 15 games in that span.
“We started out playing some really tough competition and took quite a few losses,” Chavez said. “From the losses, they kind of got a little bit of a hunger to win. We grew and got comfortable with each other and started playing better. We knew by the time we stepped into district, we needed to be improved and be able to play at a better level. And we’re doing well.”
In particular, Chavez points to one match late last month that turned the team around.
“You go through stages when you almost think, ‘What does it feel like to win,’” Chavez said. “It was tough. After we played Goddard, it was just tough. That kind of turned us around a little bit and it gave us more purpose.”
The Lady Rams (8-8, 2-0 District 4-3A) continue district play when they travel to Dexter on Thursday, before returning home for the first of two matches against Ruidoso on Oct. 21.