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Lady Cats fall short at Hobbs


Last updated 10/16/2021 at 5:14pm

Hobbs News-Sun

Hobbs' Aniya Joseph, left, and Jayla David set up the block against Clovis' Mili Ratledge during Thursday night's District 4-5A matchup at Hobbs High School's Ralph Tasker Arena.

HOBBS - When Clovis and Hobbs clash at any sport, it's going to be intense. That's the deal with their rivalry, that's just how it is.

Thursday's District 4-5A volleyball showdown at Ralph Tasker Arena was no exception. Though the result was a sweep for the Lady Eagles - 25-22, 25-16, 30-28 - the match was intense, especially the third and final set, as its score indicates.

For Hobbs, that result brought another notch in the longstanding rivalry, along with a seventh consecutive victory for the Lady Eagles (11-8, 2-0 district) after a 4-8 start to the season.

Quite a bounty for Hobbs, indeed.

"It was a heck of a match," said Diana Juarez, normally Hobbs' junior varsity coach who filled in Thursday for ailing varsity coach Stacy Williams. "The girls did a great job, battled through some of our mistakes, and came out with the win."

Juarez is a veteran of Clovis-Hobbs wars, having played in loads of them before graduating from Hobbs in 2008. She was actually an opponent of Williams when the latter coached at Artesia, and her own high school coach back then was Brenda Wilson, now Hobbs High athletic director, who assisted her for Thursday night's match.

When Juarez stepped in for Williams on Thursday, it was a seamless transition for her and the Hobbs players.

"They already know how I am," Juarez said. "We wanted to get this win for coach Williams, and we knew going into this game that that was our goal, and so it was easy to make the partnership work between coach and players."

Hobbs senior Kamryn Cantu enjoyed the contest.

"It was fun, I liked it," she Cantu said. "She (Juarez) stepped up as a coach, and it was really good. She did a really good job."

Meantime, the Lady Wildcats (6-13, 0-2) put up quite a fight against a streaking Hobbs team that was playing in the friendly confines of its home gym. So Clovis coach Darrel Ray found a lot to like about Thursday's outing, despite the loss.

"We were very happy with what the girls did," Ray said. "We had good scouting reports, and we did defensively what we wanted to try to do. But (the Lady Eagles) have got so many good athletes - Wisdom (Anthony) had a fantastic game, and (Aniya) Joseph's always going to get hers. So the way we played, we were happy.

"We wish we could've turned a few different points and put a little more pressure on them a couple of times, but no, they're a very, very good team. We're happy to have played as well as we did against a very good team. I really do think - and Brenda may argue with me, because I coached against Brenda for a lot of years - that that's the best Hobbs team I've ever coached against."

Clovis, though, broke out early, building a 13-6 first-set lead. But the Lady Eagles fought back, winning 10 of the next 11 points to grab a 16-14 advantage.

After a Clovis timeout, the Lady Cats inched to 16-15 but would never get closer as Hobbs stayed in front the rest of the set, and won it in the form of a Joseph kill on set point.

"We were sleeping a little bit during the first set," Cantu said, "but we pulled through. I already knew we were going to pull through."

Juarez wasn't surprised that the Lady Eagles pecked their way out of their early deficit.

"I think it's because they (Lady Eagles) just don't want to lay down and take a beating," Juarez said. "So they're going to do everything they can to come back and get some momentum."

The second set was tied five times early, the last at 9-9. But the Lady Eagles then took the lead and never relinquished it, going on for their biggest win margin of the night with an Anthony ace wrapping it up and giving Hobbs a 2-0 lead.

Though the Lady Eagles led the third set early, 4-1, Clovis came back to surge ahead, eventually building a four-point lead four times, the last at 18-14.

Hobbs rallied again, however, winning four straight points to forge an 18-all stalemate, the tying point coming on another Joseph kill.

A Cantu ace put the Lady Eagles up 19-18, before her service error tied it again. Hobbs jumped to a 22-19 lead on another Joseph kill, a Sarahi Gutierrez ace and a Clovis hitting error before the Lady Cats stormed back for a 22-all tie.

The set seesawed like that for the next several minutes. Hobbs went ahead 24-22, only to have Clovis pull into a 24-all deadlock. The Lady Eagles took leads of 25-24, 26-25, 27-26, and 28-27, but the Lady Wildcats recorded the tying point each time to stay alive.

Finally, the Eagles managed to get the two points in a row they needed for victory, both coming on Joseph kills to close out the set and the match.

"We're on a winning streak, seven I think," Cantu said. "That's momentum right there. We want to keep on going, keep on winning."


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