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Lady Cats fall in opener

Clovis sophomore Britni Montague, left, and senior Laura Wood attempt to block a shot during Tuesday’s match against Frenship at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. CNJ photo by Eric Kluth.

With an almost all-new team, Clovis High opened its volleyball season on Tuesday night against a Texas opponent with nine matches already under its belt.

The extra experience paid dividends for Frenship, which led virtually all the way in a 25-23, 25-17, 25-18 sweep of the Lady Wildcats at Rock Staubus Gym.

Nicole Weber, a junior middle hitter who moved into the Frenship district this year from San Antonio, grilled the Lady Cats for eight of her match-high 12 kills in the third game.

She also had two blocks and a service ace in the match.

“She’s really stepped up our level of play,” Frenship coach Jennifer McCulley said. “The girls are really feeding off her.”

The Lady Tigers (5-5) pulled out a tight first game and maintained momentum the rest of the way.

“I’d like to play them in our 10th match,” said CHS coach Darrel Ray, whose team hosts its eighth annual invitational tournament this weekend. “We have the athleticism, it’s just a matter of getting in sync.”

Clovis pulled even with Frenship in the first game at 3-3 and 5-5 on kills by Kim Perkins and Annie Tweedy, respectively, but never could get over the hump.

The Lady Tigers went up 7-5 and held on after the Lady Cats pulled to within a point five times, the last at 24-23 on consecutive aces by Perkins. Frenship’s Ashley Rodriguez scored a kill on the next volley to finish off the game.

The momentum changed at that point, Ray said.

“In Game 2, I thought we looked disappointed,” he said. “The girls are working so hard — they might be working too hard.”

Clovis had 1-0 leads in each of the next two games, but promptly fell behind in both and never caught up.

“Defensively, we have to do a better job of getting our block ready,” Ray said. “Our ability to make adjustments was not good tonight.

“I thought the kids battled hard tonight. We’ve just got to get to where the kids don’t beat themselves.”

While acknowledging that her team’s earlier start to the season was an advantage, McCulley said it was also important to get in front and maintain momentum.

“It’s more of a mental game for us right now,” she said. “I wanted to keep the momentum, and I felt like we did that most of the match.

“I didn’t want us to let our guard down. We’ve had trouble finishing in some matches, so that was something we could work on today.”

Sophomore middle hitter Siobhan Flatow led CHS with six kills, followed by Perkins with four. Perkins also had three of the team’s seven aces, while senior Laura Wood added two.

Frenship won the junior varsity clash 25-15, 19-25, 15-13, while the Lady Cats took the “C” match 25-15, 14-25, 15-5.