Lady Cats put unbeaten record on line
CNJ staff photo: Rick White/Senior Tara Ray is a two-year starter at setter for the Lady Wildcats.
Clovis puts its unbeaten season on the line tonight against a team its never beaten.
The Lady Wildcats (9-0), coming off a championship at the Zia Classic in Roswell over the weekend, host Lubbock Coronado at 6:30 p.m. in an interstate matchup at Rock Staubus Gym.
The Mustangs (19-4) are a perennial state playoff contender in one of the toughest districts in Texas.
“Our success rate against Amarillo and Lubbock Coronado is zilch,” fourth-year Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “We’ve never beaten either of those two programs.”
Ray said Texas teams benefit from playing 30-plus-game schedules and year-round club teams.
Pride is also a motivating factor, Ray said.
“They don’t like to cross the border and lose,” Ray said. “Last year they wiped us out so bad it was like, ‘go home and practice some more.’”
Clovis senior middle blocker Alissa McDowell said the biggest difference between the teams the Lady Wildcats have faced and the Mustangs is Coronado is much more proficient at running set plays off serve receive.
“They’re so much better prepared than most teams and generally they play against tougher competition,” McDowell said. “Only the best teams in New Mexico run plays off of every serve.”
McDowell believes Coronado will see a much different team than the one the Mustangs beat handily last season.
“Our confidence is a lot higher than it was last year,” McDowell said. “This year we’re going into the match believing we can win. I don’t think that was case last year.”
The Lady Wildcats won 14 of 15 games in the Zia Classic behind the play of middle blocker Monique Walker, the tournament’s most valuable player. She was joined on the all-tournament team by setter Tara Ray and outside hitter Jessica Hohn.
Ray thinks his senior-laden team will be up to the challenge.
“It’s time we tested ourselves,” Ray said. “We’ve played some pretty good teams this year but nobody like them. But this team is pretty resilient. They don’t go down too easily.”
“If we can beat them, we can beat any team in New Mexico,” Ray said.