In each of the last three years, the Clovis High volleyball team has lost in the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A state tournament.
This time, coach Darrel Ray thinks the Lady Wildcats could be poised for a deeper run.
Seeded sixth in the 12-team field, the Lady Cats take on top seed and defending champion Rio Rancho, No. 7 Mayfield and No. 12 Gallup in pool play today.
Teams will then be seeded for first-round and quarterfinal matches, set for Thursday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. Semifinals on Friday and the championship at 7 p.m. Saturday will be played at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center in Albuquerque.
“I think with the way 5A is this year, it could be one of those times where if we play well we could go as far as we want,” Ray said.
Clovis has played well in the past, but come up against good teams in losing to Mayfield in five games in 2005, to Eldorado in four in 2006 and to Cibola in five last year.
“The last three years, we’ve played our best volleyball in Albuquerque,” Ray said. “It seems like our kids have typically peaked at just about the right time.
“Everyone has had excellent matches (at state), but it’d be nice just once to get on the plus side.”
Clovis is coming off a tougher-than-expected five-game win over Hobbs in the District 4-5A tournament final on Saturday at Rock Staubus Gym.
The Lady Cats appeared to be in trouble at several points in the match, but found their way to the winner’s circle.
“I think we can do it if we have confidence in ourselves,” junior setter Carissa Grummer said. “I thought we’d do better than we did (in Saturday’s match), but we played real good in the fifth game.”
Grummer said the home court may have helped the Lady Cats pull out the win.
“Our fans started getting louder,” she said of the fifth game. “I think that helped us out a lot.”
Ray noted that Rio Rancho (17-4) is unbeaten against New Mexico competition and goes in as the favorite.
“Until somebody in New Mexico beats them, I’d have to say they’re the favorite,” he said. “After that, I don’t think there’s a clear No. 2. I think everybody from No. 2 through No. 9 is pretty much a push.”
Grummer got her feet wet at state last year in the match against Cibola, and thinks that experience will help.
“I was scared,” she recalled. “This year, I think we’ll do good.”