Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Lady Rattlers upset Tularosa


November 7, 2018

Ron Warnick

Tucumcari's Julianna Salas, left, and Kalani French block a spike by Tularosa's Brandy Silva during a district match Saturday at the Snake Pit.

Tucumcari's volleyball team played itself into position for a regular-season district championship by upsetting state-ranked Tularosa 25-15, 25-22, 25-22 Saturday at the Snake Pit.

The victory by the Lady Rattlers (6-14 overall, 3-1 in district) forced a tiebreaking match at a neutral site for the Class 3A District 4 title. Tucumcari was scheduled to travel to Dexter at 6 p.m. Tuesday to face Tularosa (16-3, 3-1) for a third time this season. A final score of that match wasn't available before press start.

Tucumcari coach Dena Benavidez insisted for weeks her squad was better than its win-loss record, and it would be more focused once district play began.

The Lady Rattlers rewarded her faith by winning three of their last four matches. On Saturday, they combined a strong blocking game, aggressive tips at the net, strong digging and just one serving error during the unexpected three-set victory.

"Our best is really, really good, and today, we played our best," Benavidez said. "We had a game plan, and we executed it perfectly. Every single player on the floor played amazing."

Meanwhile, Tularosa coach Kyndra Montes didn't hide her disappointment.

"Tucumcari, they played to win," she said. "They played great; they played their hearts out. We had times where we didn't give it our all. I think we weren't quite as prepared for them as we should have been."

During Tucumcari's 11-25, 29-27, 21-25, 24-26 loss on the road Oct. 27 at Tularosa, Benavidez noted the Wildcats were less potent on offense when faced with a stout blocking game.

On Saturday, she credited blockers Julianna Salas, Lenora Trujillo, Mariah Ruvalcuba-Vasquez, Aaliyah Brown and Kalani French for forcing the Wildcats out of their potent hitting game. The Lady Rattlers made at least three blocks for points in the first game, setting the tone.

"They all blocked phenomenally tonight," Benavidez said. "The other team has a hard time when we block that well."

Tucumcari fell behind 5-1 in the first game, 7-3 in the second and 15-10 in the third but rallied each time.

The Lady Rattlers went on a 5-0 run - boosted by an ace from Lorin Chavez - to secure the first game.

Late in the second game, Jasmine Jones made three kills during a critical time to give her team a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

In the deciding game, Tularosa made a series of hitting, fielding and net errors to give Tucumcari the win and the match.

Earlier in the week, Tucumcari continued its strong play by defeating district foe Dexter for a second time this season, 25-20, 25-14, 25-17.

Dexter dropped to 2-18 overall, 0-4 in district play.


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