Lady Cats ready to start

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Clovis High volleyball coach Darrel Ray used a camp-type setting last week to get a jump on the season.

Ray, beginning his eighth season as the Lady Wildcats’ coach, entered Monday’s first day of practice having a fair read on his squad.

“When you’ve had them for the better part of a week, you have a pretty good idea of what you’ve got,” Ray said. “We’re going to settle into roles pretty quickly and develop some skills.”

The Lady Cats return about half the varsity from last year’s 13-9 squad, which rolled to the District 4-5A title with a 4-0 record. Clovis was eliminated in the Class 5A state quarterfinals by Eldorado.

Ray said his team will feature good size and athleticism.

“With that, we need to just make it where we can utilize it in a game,” he said. “What I see as our two main goals are, can we pass well enough to support our hitting at the net and can we get our setting up to speed?”

Clovis opens the season at defending Class 4A champion Roswell High on Aug. 25. That weekend, the Lady Cats host their annual 16-team invitational at Rock Staubus Gym.

Cross country — The CHS girls missed a chance for a high Class 5A state finish last fall when standout Caitlin Waters came down ill just before the meet.

Now Waters is back, and coach Mark Bussen is having to replace two mainstays in sophomore Michelle Schenk and senior Nicole Johnson, both of whom have moved away.

The girls were 10th in last fall’s state meet, but could have finished in the top three or four with Waters, Bussen said.

“She brings a lot to the team, obviously,” he said. “It just depends on what we can get behind her.”

Clovis opens its season on Aug. 31 with its own invitational meet at Ned Houk Park.

Bussen, who is in the second year of his second stint with the program after coaching from 1998-2003, expected a turnout in the mid-30s, split nearly evenly between boys and girls.

He said most of the runners have conditioned extensively on their own during the summer.

“This is quite honestly, the best-conditioned team I’ve ever had,” Bussen said. “Most of the kids have run more than 100 miles during the summer.”