By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Clovis High’s Aimee Hilburn says she’s a little sad her final competitive volleyball match is coming up this week in the Class 4A-5A New Mexico High School Coaches Association Class 4-5A all-star game in Albuquerque, but at the same time she’s ready to move on.
Hilburn signed to play basketball at Division I Texas State during her senior year, and will leave for school in mid-August.
“I’m really into basketball,” said the 6-foot Hilburn, an outside hitter for the Lady Wildcats in volleyball. “I really like volleyball, too, but basketball has been my life for the last 10 or 11 years.”
Hilburn and fellow CHS grad Brianne Bracken are representing the Lady Cats on the South squad in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. matchup at the Johnson Center on the campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Ruth Chavez of Portales will coach the South squad, which also includes the Lady Rams’ Megan Kabrick.
Three area players — Clovis Christian’s Tasha Daale for the North and Texico’s Lori Richardson and Fort Sumner’s Julie Wood for the South — will play in the Class 1A-2A contest, the first half of Tuesday’s doubleheader at 5 p.m.
Hilburn said she’s a little nervous about the all-star game, but expects it to go well.
“I look at it as a fun time (playing) with a lot of great volleyball players,” she said. “It’s an honor to be (selected) to play with all of these people.”
Hilburn and Bracken helped Clovis reach the Class 5A state quarterfinals last fall, where the Lady Cats took top-seeded and unbeaten Mayfield to the wire before losing. CHS finished with a 17-7 record.
Bracken, a defensive specialist who will attend Colorado State University in the fall, said she’s also a little jittery.
“That’s because I’m probably going to be rusty,” she conceded. “But I’m excited to play again.”
She said she didn’t really anticipate being selected for the all-star game.
“I was a little surprised, but I was definitely pleased,” she said. “It was a good year for us.”
Class 1A-2A — Richardson is also wrapping up her competitive sports career in this match. She plans to attend New Mexico State in the fall with a major in animal science.
“It should be fun,” she said. “I’m excited to go. It’s a really big honor.”
Richardson said she and fellow Texico grad Erika Autrey plan to stay active in intramurals at NMSU.
Texico achieved a 20-6 record last fall and reached the Class 2A state finals, where the Lady Wolverines bowed to unbeaten Ramah.
Noting that four members of the Mustangs’ squad are on the North roster, Richardson quipped: “I’m looking forward to a little bit of revenge.”
Daale, a middle blocker, and Wood, a defensive specialist, helped their respective teams post 17-7 records last fall. CCS lost to Elida in the Class 1A regional semifinals while the Vixens, 1A state champions in 2004, were ousted last fall by eventual champion Tatum in the first round at state.
“It’s a privilege to be selected for this,” said Daale, who plans to attend Dordt College, a Christian school in Sioux Center, Iowa. “I still don’t know what to expect (Tuesday), but I think it’ll be fun.”