The Clovis High volleyball team celebrates on the court after its District 4-5A tournament championship victory over Hobbs on Saturday night at Rock Staubus Gym. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer
As they raised a 12-by-8 wooden plaque, the Clovis Lady Wildcats were champions.
Clovis defeated Hobbs 25-16, 25-10, 25-9 to capture the District 4-5A volleyball championship on Saturday night at Rock Staubus Gym.
Sophomore middle hitter Lainey Flatow had a team-high nine kills and added one block for the Lady Cats (13-8), who now head to the 5A state tournament in Albuquerque.
Senior outside hitter Siobhan Flatow added seven kills, while junior middle hitter Jasmine McDonald had nine blocks.
“We came out ready to play our game,” Flatow said. “We weren’t in the lockerroom thinking, ‘Hey, we beat Hobbs twice.’ We thought this was a team just like any other team, and we have to come out and play our game.”
Senior libero Cynthia Lucio defended the Lady Cats’ territory with 23 digs, as Clovis never gave up more than six straight points.
Hobbs (11-10) gave Clovis a scare in the second game, scoring six straight points after the Lady Cats took an early 3-0 lead. Hobbs junior outside hitter Christi Moreno sailed a serve into the net and evened the match 8-8, after Clovis went on a 5-2 hitting spree.
The Lady Cats blew the game open with a 17-2 run which saw Flatow pound two kills down the left side line, and two other kills by Brown through the heart of the Lady Eagles’ front line.
Clovis started the third game with a 12-2 run highlighted by a volley that saw McDonald and senior setter Britni Montague stuff Hobbs three straight times. The Lady Eagles managed seven more points, but freshman Antiesha Brown ended the match with a blistering kill down the middle to give the Lady Cats the crown.
Clovis trailed three times in the match, and put together one its more complete games of the season, coach Darrel Ray said.
“The staff feels we’re coming to a peak at the right time,” Ray said. “We didn’t have too many mistakes, or we didn’t beat ourselves.”
Ray said Clovis was eagerly anticipating the match and felt some nervousness.
“I couldn’t do a thing today, and I talked to some of my kids and they felt the same way,” Ray said. “It’s good now that we have this one behind us.”
Next up for the Lady Cats is a road trip to Albuquerque for the state championship tournament, where they will compete in pool play first then bracket play.
“What we’ve been doing all year long is taking each game as it comes at us,” Siobhan Flatow said. “We’re going to play as hard as we can, and pour our hearts out.”