Clovis’ Aimee Hilburn taps the ball over the net during the third game of Thursday’s match against Santa Fe High at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Two nights after seeing a two-game lead slip away against rival Portales, the Clovis High volleyball team looked ready to suffer the same fate against Santa Fe High.
Not this time. The Lady Wildcats recovered from a third-game loss and pulled away for a 25-17, 25-22, 17-25, 25-15 win over the Demonettes at Rock Staubus Gym.
Clovis coach Darrel Ray acknowledged that thoughts of Tuesday’s stunning loss popped into his head when Santa Fe forced a fourth game.
“All three of us (coaching staff) went home and couldn’t sleep Tuesday night,” Ray said. “It’s nice to get the taste of that one out of our mouths.”
Senior outside hitter Aimee Hilburn led the Lady Cats (4-3) with 15 kills and three aces while junior outside hitter Siobhan Flatow added nine kills and two aces.
Clovis led all the way through the first game, opening a 9-3 lead on two aces by Hilburn, and never trailed in the second game although the Demonettes (3-4) did pull even on six occasions — the last at 13-13.
Santa Fe, though, had control most of the way in the third game and then led for a while at the start of the fourth. The Lady Cats broke away with a 7-1 spurt keyed by two aces from junior Cynthia Lucio and two kills from Hilburn.
“I think we knew we could do it,” Flatow said. “We just had to get our energy level back up.
“It’s hard to not focus on (Tuesday’s loss). It’s just something that happens to every team, and you just have to move on.”
Both teams were error-prone in the match, but Clovis made enough plays to keep the Demonettes at bay.
“This time we struggled through our adverse game,” Ray said. “They kept giving us opportunities offensively and we’d make a mistake. We just couldn’t stay away from mistakes (in the third game), and it cost us.”
Hilburn had six kills in the fourth game while Flatow, who said she had one of her better outings of the season, added four.
“It was a team effort,” Flatow said. “We passed well, served well and set well, and when those elements come together you’re able to get some hits.”
Senior Kristy Borrego-Ojinaga and Ella Rothstein each had seven kills and two aces for Santa Fe.
Ray said the Lady Cats, who beat Santa Fe in four games in the semifinals of the Clovis Invitational in late August, made some adjustments from that match that helped.
“I thought we did a good job of executing tonight,” he said. “The offense looked good again. I was happy how my kids took the coaching. It went from the film to the floor real well.”
Demonettes coach Diana Ronquillo said she thought her team played better in the earlier contest.
“Clovis did a good job of serving to our younger players,” she said. “They capitalized on our weaknesses.
“I felt like my team made a lot of mistakes tonight, but I’d love to play Clovis 100 times. They’re a team that makes you better and makes you see where your weaknesses are.”
Clovis 3, Santa Fe High 1
Santa Fe High 17 22 25 15
Clovis 25 25 17 25
Kills — Santa Fe High, Kristy Borrego-Ojinaga 7, Ella Rothstein 7. Clovis, Aime Hilburn 15, Siobhan Flatow 9, Brittany Blackmon 7, Jasmine McDonald 7. Blocks — Santa Fe High, Jordan Shultz 2, Julia Hoffman 1, Amanda Ortiz 1. Clovis, Blackmon 1, McDonald 1. Aces — Santa Fe High, Borrego-Ojinaga 2, Rothstein 2, Ortiz 1, Shultz 1. Clovis, Hilburn 3, Cynthia Lucio 3, Flatow 2, Kim Perkins 1. Records — Santa Fe High 3-4, Clovis 4-3. JV — Clovis def. Santa Fe High 25-16, 25-14.