Lady Cats struggle from start

Clovis’ Britni Montague, left, and Laura Wood attempt to block a shot during the first set of game Tuesday’s match at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. (Staff photo by Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

An absent head coach and a mixup in the lineup put the Clovis Lady Wildcats on their heals Tuesday night against Lubbock Monterey.

Coach Darrell Ray couldn’t be at the match, attending to a family emergency. Then the Lady Cats found out the lineup they had prepared with was accidentally changed on the lineup card.

Combine the two, and Clovis lost for the ninth time in 11 matches this season, 25-14, 25-13, 25-22.

“We have to take responsibility for that as a coaching staff and it’s tough for the girls, especially a young team, to overcome,” Clovis assistant coach Andy Sweet said. “We couldn’t get anything going because of that.”

Monterey pounced on Clovis in the opening game, building a 7-0 lead. The Lady Plainsmen’s solid hitting combined with Clovis’ unforced errors turned into a 25-14 win in the first game.

The second game nearly replicated the first. Monterey parlayed kill shots and unreturned serves into a 6-1 lead. The road team nearly doubled-up Clovis, winning 25-13 in the second game.

The Lady Wildcats finally had some answers for the taller Monterey team in game three. Passes were crisp and allowed good set-ups. Clovis shots that had been hitting the net made it over and suddenly the Lady Plainsmen were making the errors.

Clovis built leads of 14-9 and 18-11 in the third game.
“We didn’t want to give them that big lead, but Clovis was playing a whole lot better in that third game,” Monterey coach Keith Johnson said.

However, the Lady Cats scored only five points from then on.

A few unforced Clovis errors in combination with powerful Monterey kills brought the road team back to a 22-19 deficit. A Monterey kill, a Clovis illegal touch, three unreturned serves by Clovis and an ace by Monterey sealed the game, 25-22.

“They relaxed and played the game they’re capable of playing, until those three bad passes right at the end,” Sweet said. “Those are errors we’re making fewer of … but they just came at a tough time tonight to lose that third game.”

Crista Mestas led the Lady Cats with 11 assists. Brianne Bracken pulled out five digs and Annie Tweedy four. Laura Berning slammed down six kills.

The win was a change of pace for Monterey, which had lost four matches in a row, usually because it couldn’t finish at the end. The Lady Plainsmen are now 14-12.

Clovis may get to see the Lady Plainsmen again this weekend, as the team travels to Lubbock for a tournament Friday and Saturday.

Sweet said Ray could be back at practice today.