Lady Cats reach semifinals in CHS volleyball invitational

CHS hitters Siobhan Flatow, center, and Jasmine McDonald, right, block a shot by Hobbs setter Cynthia Mendez (11) in pool play of the Clovis Invitational volleyball tournament on Friday at Rock Staubus Gym. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

Whether it was because they were mad about losing a pair of pool play games to rival Hobbs earlier in the day or if it was simply because the Lady Wildcats’ volleyball players wanted to go next door to watch the football game, Clovis ended up making short work of El Paso Bel Air in the quarterfinals of its tournament on Friday.

With a 25-13, 25-23, 25-16 sweep, Clovis moves into a semifinal at 11:30 a.m. against Los Lunas.

“We just really refocused after the way we played this afternoon,” said Clovis’ Siobhan Flatow of the motivation for the Lady Cats, who still won their four-team pool despite the stumble against Hobbs.

Flatow was critical to the fast start for Clovis against Bel Air as the senior outside hitter knocked down five kills in the first game alone.

In Game 2, it was middle blocker Jasmine McDonald that became a point-generator for the Lady Cats as she stuffed three Bel Air shots and recorded a kill as well.

“She missed a couple and we were kind of growling at her from the bench, then she turned it on really really well after that,” Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “Sometimes her and Lainey (Flatow) can both show that athleticism.”

The only close game of the match was the second, but Clovis pulled away from a 23-23 tie when Lainey Flatow put down a kill and, on game point, Bel Air was called for being out of rotation.

Portales manhandled El Paso Del Valle 25-16, 25-17, 25-13 in another quarterfinal as Bethany Self knocked down 14 kills and Jordan Roehl and Briana Hernandez tallied seven apiece.

The most telling weakness in the Del Valle performance was Portales’ ability to record service winners against the Conquistadores. Six Lady Rams were able to rip serves for aces, often part of long runs for Portales.

Ella Erf got a couple of aces in a 7-0 streak for the Lady Rams in the first game that gave Portales a 9-4 lead. To start the second game, setter Dallas Russell then hit three aces in a row against the confused Del Valle defense and followed that with an outstanding dig against Conquistadores hitter Krystal Cisceros. Ultimately, the play ended in another point for the Lady Rams and a 6-1 advantage to start game 2.

“She’s good in practice; she’s good every day,” said Portales coach Ruth Chavez of Russell.

In another quarterfinal match, the last two state champions in Class 1A faced each other as Tatum swept Fort Sumner 25-23, 25-21, 25-16. Tatum (2-0), last year’s winner of the Clovis tournament, was led by 15 kills from Amanda Lopez, while the Vixens got nine putaways from Rachel Chavez.

Fort Sumner (1-1), which finished second to Del Valle in its pool, held leads late into both the first and third games against the Lady Coyotes. But Tatum recovered from a 20-16 deficit in the first and, in the third, broke away from a 14-12 disadvantage by reeling off eight of the next nine points to go up 20-15.

Tatum, which went undefeated last season, now has won 27 matches in a row.

Now Portales will get its shot after losing a pair of games (21-15, 22-20) to the Lady Coyotes in pool play.

“They don’t make any mistakes, but we gave up ten points on our errors. We just played poor,” Chavez said. “I like playing Tatum. They’re a good team, so I know we’ll be looking forward to playing them again.”

Portales will play Tatum at 1 p.m. in a semifinal. The winner plays in the championship match, set for 6:30 p.m. at Rock Staubus Gym.

“I think they’re a good team, but I think we can beat ‘em,” Russell, a sophomore for the Lady Rams, said of Tatum. “When we played them, we didn’t talk at all. We just need to talk more.”

Clovis Invitational
Pool play (two-game matches)
Pool A (Rock Staubus Gym):
1. Clovis 4-2; 2. West Las Vegas 4-2; 3. Hobbs 4-2; 4. Dexter 0-6.
Pool B (lego gym): 1. Los Lunas 5-1; 2. El Paso Bel Air 4-2; 3. St. Michael’s 3-3; 4. Lovington 0-6.
Pool C (north gym): 1. Tatum 4-2; 2. Portales 4-2; 3. Lubbock Christian 3-3; 4. Albuquerque Academy 1-5.
Pool D (Yucca J.H.): 1. El Paso Del Valle 5-1; 2. Fort Sumner 3-3; 3. Amarillo Arbor Christian 3-3; 4. Artesia 1-5.
Gold bracket
Clovis def. El Paso Bel Air 25-13, 25-23, 25-16
Los Lunas def. West Las Vegas 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 18-25, 16-14
Tatum def. Fort Sumner 25-23, 25-21, 25-16
Portales def. El Paso Del Valle 25-16, 25-17, 25-13
Silver bracket
Lovington def. Hobbs 26-24, 25-21, 18-25, 25-19
St. Michael’s def. Dexter 20-25, 24-26, 25-22, 25-13, 16-14
Lubbock Christian def. Artesia 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-17
Arbor Christian def. Albuquerque Academy 27-25, 17-25, 25-19, 26-24
Gold bracket
Rock Staubus Gym unless noted
Consolation semifinals
El Paso Bel Air vs. West Las Vegas, 8 a.m.
Fort Sumner vs. El Paso Del Valle, 9:30 a.m.
Championship semifinals
Clovis vs. Los Lunas, 11:30 a.m.
Tatum vs. Portales, 1 p.m.
Final round
7th place, 3 p.m. (lego gym)
5th place, 2:30 p.m.
3rd place, 4:30 p.m.
Championship, 6:30 p.m.
Silver bracket
North gym unless noted
Consolation semifinals
Hobbs vs. Dexter, 8 a.m.
Artesia vs. Albuquerque Academy, 9:30 a.m.
Championship semifinals
Lovington vs. St. Michael’s, 11:30 a.m.
Lubbock Christian vs. Amarillo Arbor Christian, 1 p.m.
Final round
7th place, 1:30 p.m. (lego gym)
5th place, 2:30 p.m.
3rd place, 4:30 p.m.
Championship, 6:30 p.m.