From Tatum to Santa Fe to Texas, the Clovis Wildcats never quite know who they’re going to face once it’s bracket play time at its annual Clovis Invitational volleyball tournanent.
But that might be the best feature of the two-day event.
“There are a lot of different styles of ball,” senior libero Felicia Aguilar said. “It’s good to see different teams around the state. It lets us know where we’re at.”
Clovis coach Darrel Ray said there’s a good possibility the Wildcats (1-0) could get on a roll and take the tournament. But there are a lot of teams that give him pause — starting with Texas teams that already have 10 games under their belts.
“Denver City has a lot of players coming back,” Ray said. “I think they have a ballclub that will be tough to compete with and if they get on a run, they can win the tournament.”
Teams like the Fillies and Amarillo Palo Duro have an advantage of a few weeks experience in the tournament, while most New Mexico teams are either on their first or second matches when they arrive at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
But there are strong New Mexico teams as well, including Portales, which opened the season Tuesday with a sweep of Class 5A Hobbs.
“They’re big, they’re physical,” Ray said of Portales. “When you watch see (senior) Jenna Wagner at the net, she’s scary.”
Ray expects a challenge in Clovis’ pool from Los Lunas. Other teams in the field include Aztec, Lovington, Albuquerque Academy and Lubbock Christian.
Aguilar said in her previous experiences at the invitational, the teams that had the best communication were the teams that succeeded. She expressed confidence following Tuesday’s road sweep at Palo Duro.
“We’re pretty solid,” said the 5-foot Aguilar. “I was really impressed with the way we came together and stuck it out and won in three (games). We had a tendency to win the first two and then drop off.”
Ray, a math teacher, said he’s been impressed so far, but he’s sticking with his “170 degree turnaround” feeling the Wildcats should realize they’ve made a turnaround but they haven’t arrived yet.
“We’ve got three sophomores in the starting positions, and they’re going to make mistakes,” Ray said. “If they do things as well or better (than they did Monday), somebody’s going to have to beat us (instead of us losing matches).”
Rock Staubus Gym
Pool A: 1. Los Lunas. 2. Clovis. 3. Ysleta. 4. Mescalero
Pool B: 1. St. Michael’s, 2. Amarillo Palo Duro. 3. Aztec. 4. Dexter.
Pool C: 1. Portales. 2. Lubbock Christian. 3. West Las Vegas. 4. Cimarron.
Pool D: 1. Denver City. 2. Albuquerque Academy. 3. Lovington. 4. Del Valle.
Pool play schedule: 8 a.m., 1 vs. 2; 8:50 a.m., 3 vs. 4; 9:30 a.m., 1 vs. 3; 10:10 a.m., 2 vs. 4; 10:50 a.m., 2 vs. 3; 11:30 a.m., 1 vs.4.
Bracket play: Begins 4 p.m. Friday. The top two teams in each pool will enter gold bracket play, and the bottom teams will enter silver bracket play.