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Clovis tops Santa Fe to advance in 2-6A volleyball tournament

 

November 1, 2017

Tony Bullocks

Clovis freshman Mikyla Harkley gets the return past Santa Fe sophomore Ainsley Reynolds-Smith during Tuesday night's District 2-6A tournament at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

CLOVIS — Halloween night was fitting for the Clovis volleyball team's District 2-6A first-round game against Santa Fe.

Yes, partly because Clovis' opponent was the Lady Demons, which fit in well with the Halloween theme. But mostly because the Lady Wildcats were facing a very basic trick-or-treat scenario. Trick, they lose and their season is done; treat, they win and advance.

Fortunately for Clovis, it was the latter Tuesday at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Though they had to withstand a scary-good Santa Fe comeback, the Lady 'Cats emerged with a 3-1 victory, with scores of 25-13, 25-19, 24-26, 26-24.

"A big win. We played well," Clovis head coach Ruth Chavez said after her team improved to 11-9 while moving on to face third-seeded Eldorado tonight at 6 on the road. The Eagles (13-6) cruised past sixth-seeded Manzano 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-14).

"I'm excited. I'm really excited," Wildcats senior outside hitter Makinzie Johnson said.

Tuesday's first two sets and last two were like watching two different games. Clovis dominated Santa Fe early, opening with noticeable energy and enthusiasm and built a 14-5 first-set lead, four of those points coming on Johnson kills; one was thanks to a Sydni Hill ace. The Lady Wildcats were well on their way to the 25-13 win.

The second set was closer, with the Lady Demons trailing only 15-14 at one juncture before Clovis ripped off five straight points, the last of that run coming on a Katie Kelley ace. The Lady 'Cats were in control again, their second-set lead never less than three from then on, and they emerged with a 25-19 victory.

It was all going Clovis' way. When the Lady Wildcats were a point away from winning each of the first two sets, their fans stood and clapped, like baseball fans in the bottom of the ninth, when their team is ahead and their closer's on the mound with two outs and two strikes.

And the momentum carried over into the third set, as Clovis stormed to a 6-0 lead, a run that included another Kelley ace. It seemed that the Lady Wildcats would keep the match under an hour long.

Not so fast. Santa Fe didn't get shaken, and led by sophomore Salome Romp, began to rebound. Quickly, it was 8-8, and though Clovis went back up 9-8 after a timeout, Santa Fe regained the lead and eventually moved to within set point, 24-22.

A Mikyla Harkley kill pulled Clovis within one, and after a Santa Fe return went out on the next point, it was 24-all.

The Lady Demons, though, took the next two points and won the set.

"I think we got a little bit rattled," Johnson said. "We had to go back to our fundamentals. We may not have gotten the third set, but our mindset was, 'We can do this.'"

"We just had a few errors here and there," Chavez said. "I don't think we played horrible. When you keep a game close, it can go either way. ... It kind of goes to how the ball bounces."

A Romp kill gave Santa Fe the early lead in a fourth set that would be separated by a one-point deficit 20 times and locked in a tie 14 times. Santa Fe, though, went up by three (18-15), and it seemed a decisive fifth set might be inevitable, unless the Wildcats changed the complexion.

"We had to get a block on (Romp); she's a good hitter," Chavez said. "We had to serve aggressively. ... We had to get up and swing at them."

"I think we knew that we could do it," Johnson said. "Giving up was not an option."

Clovis didn't give up, but instead won the next five points to grab a 20-18 advantage. Santa Fe kept battling, though, and soon had a 22-21 lead. Clovis tied it at 22 before a Lexi Cole ace put the Lady 'Cats ahead 23-22.

The back-and-forth continued, with ties of 23-23 and 24-24 following. Finally, a Harkley kill gave Clovis the edge and an emphatic kill by Kassidy Furrow clinched the win.

Clovis is happy to still be playing, even with a long trip and a short turnaround.

"We don't worry about trips," Chavez said. "We have a motto — we'll go to the moon to play."

"We don't mind going on the road," Johnson said. "We're ready to go there and play as hard as we can."

 

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