Things were going rather swimmingly for Portales in the opening round of the Clovis Invitational Volleyball tournament on Friday. But it also came apart pretty quickly as the Rams fell 3-1 to Albuquerque Academy at Rock Staubus Gymnasium
Portales (1-1) won its four-team pool in the morning and advanced to play the Chargers, who advanced to the Gold Bracket — reserved for the top eight teams from pool play — for the first time in six years of playing in Clovis.
The Rams, despite having a better history in the tournament and despite winning the first game of the match, lost momentum at the beginning of the third game as Academy (1-0) pulled out a 17-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-13 victory.
“I think we just lost our focus and we just kind of hung our heads too much after the second game,” Portales junior outside hitter Gabby Garcia said. “At first, I thought they were just another team. But after we lost (game two), I thought, ‘Okay this is going to be a tough challenge.’”
Never trailing in the first game, Portales got four straight points from senior Amanda Marquez’ serves — the last two on aces — to go up 21-13. After the Chargers responded with three straight points, Rams’ senior Jenna Wagner connected on a pair of kills to kick off a 4-1 run to end the opener.
It was at the end of the second game when things began to go awry for Portales.
Holding a 21-20 advantage, the Rams had a kill shot blocked by Academy’s Kristen Holt to tie the game. Then, a pair of errors by Portales allowed the Chargers to forge ahead.
Although Portales bounced back to tie the second at 24-24, a kill by Holt followed by a miss from Wagner gave Academy the second game.
“We didn’t want to make an error to lose that game, which I would’ve rather lost swinging hard,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said. “I think that loss — it took us a game to recover from it.”
In the third game, Academy scored the first four points and eventually held a 9-1 lead out of the gate. The Rams recovered enough to make the score 19-16, but Chargers’ junior Elizabeth Hood’s kill began a 6-1 run to keep Portales at bay.
The fourth game saw Academy hold a lead from the onset and cruise to the clinching victory.
“I’m extremely pumped. This is my first time at Academy that we’ve even made it to the other side of the bracket,” Chargers’ coach Elizabeth Green said. “It’s wonderful. They’ve played hard and met all their goals that we worked on this morning.”
Portales will face Denver City, Texas, which fell in four games to Lubbock Christian, in a 10:30 a.m. match today at Clovis High.