The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Prep volleyball: Pintos shock Rams


November 5, 2017

Kevin Wilson

Portales' Taylee Rippee tries to get the ball over Moriarty defenders Laney White, left, and Emma Martin during the first set of Saturday's District 4-4A championship at the Ram Athletic Center. The Pintos defeated Portales in four games.

PORTALES — The Moriarty Pintos proved that the "third time is the charm," winning Saturday's 4A District 4 volleyball tournament championship game against Portales.

The Pintos, who lost both of their regular season matches with the Rams, took Portales down in four sets, 19-25, 25-17, 25-18 and 25-22, to win their second-consecutive district tournament title.

"I think we just started a little tight, a little nervous and a little anxious," Moriarty coach Kim Bell said of the first set. "(Our girls) needed to get back on track for what we prepare for, and how we played in our last match against Hope Christian. Once they calmed down out of that first timeout, I think they put things into perspective and played the rest of the time."

Portales (16-5, 6-1) stormed out to a commanding 5-0 lead in the opening set, before building leads of seven and nine points. While the Pintos (17-5, 5-2) briefly pulled to within three on a couple of occasions, it was clearly Portales' game, as it took the opener, 25-19.

From there, however, the match took a total 180 spin. After Moriarty shot itself in the foot with unforced errors and bad passing in the first set, it was Portales who couldn't seem to get anything going, as it quickly lost momentum.

Like Moriarty in the first set, Portales hung around in the second set, but were clearly overmatched. Game three looked more promising for the Rams, after taking an early 7-3 lead. But, Moriarty went on a 6-2 run to pull ahead, before running away with the set, 25-18.

Ahead 2-1, going into the fourth game, Moriarty looked to put the Rams — the district's regular season champs — away on their home floor. Trailing 9-6, the Rams stormed ahead, 17-14.

However, the Pintos continued to prove over and over that they would not be denied on Saturday, as they broke a 22-22 tie by taking the final three points of the match.

"It was just our passing," Rams coach Charity Gomez said of the Rams' struggles. "We're way better passers, and we really just didn't pass it well enough. I give a lot of credit to Moriarty.

"I just think it's hard to beat a team three times, it just really is, and they're a great team. You have to do a lot of things well, whenever people kind of know your offense. We're a little unique in that our offense starts in the middle and kinda goes to the outside, where a lot of other people's start at the outsides and kind of come in."

Gomez went on to explain that in Portales' style of offense, a team like Moriarty can bring in blockers to disrupt the Rams' offense, just like it did on Saturday. Furthermore, Gomez said that without sound passing, it's hard for any team to win very many matches.

As for the Pintos, another district championship gives them a whole lot of momentum — and confidence — heading into next week's state tournament. Coach Bell went on to say that things are coming together for her team at the right time, and she couldn't ever be more right about that.

For Portales, however, the loss snaps an eight-match winning streak. In fact, The Rams had won more than 10 sets in a row, prior to the second set against Moriarty on Saturday, and during their winning streak, they had lost just two sets total.

Despite the disappointment on Saturday, the Rams should still find themselves as the likely No. 2 seed in next week's 4A state tournament, based on their regular-season resume. For Gomez, moving on from Saturday's outcome is the name of the game.

"Like I told the girls, we just kind of get over this one pretty quick and get back in the gym. We have one week left, and we just get after it and see what happens," Gomez explained.

"At the state tournament, you just never know. Crazy things can happen and I think we're pretty competitive, and as long as we stay strong in our service game and our serve-receive game, we'll be fine."


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