Lady Wildcats survive off night

CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth/Clovis junior Roxy Luera, left, and senior Alissa McDowell challenge Goddard’s Katie Fisher.

Rick White

The Clovis Lady Wildcats remained perfect on a not-so-perfect night, grinding out a three-game win over Roswell Goddard on Tuesday in a matchup of state-ranked teams.
Clovis coach Darrel Ray said the Lady Wildcats were lucky to escape with the 25-21, 25-20, 26-24 win at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
“We’re just happy to get out of here without getting our heads handed to us,” Ray said. “We had two or three positions that were a little off. Our play just deteriorated after Game 1.”
Senior middle blocker Monique Walker collected 15 kills and six blocks and sophomore Aimee Hilburn added eight kills and eight blocks as the Lady Wildcats, ranked fourth in Class 5A, improved to 6-0.
Goddard, ranked second in Class 4A, dropped to 1-1.
“We had so many unforced errors,” first-year Goddard coach Eric Zamora said. “Coach Ray really does a good job with them, and they can really swing at the ball.”
The Lady Wildcats were at their best early, jumping out to a 7-1 lead three minutes into the fast-paced match. Goddard drew as close as 12-10 before Walker restored order for Clovis with three-straight kills.
“We started off good and kind of let up,” senior outside hitter Jessica Hohn said. “I think we were tired because we’ve been practicing really hard.”
Senior Dani Millinder rescued the slow-starting Lady Wildcats in the second game, sparking a 6-0 run with a pair of aces, giving Clovis the lead for good. Four kills by Walker and aces by Tara Ray and Alissa McDowell gave Clovis just enough gas to outlast Goddard.
Taking advantage of poor passing and setting by the Lady Wildcats, Goddard appeared headed for a win in the third game. The Lady Rockets led by five points three times, and were within a point of forcing a fourth game at 24-21.
Ray said although he had a timeout left, he decided not to use it. At that point, he said, it was up to the players to dig themselves out of the hole.
“What was I going to tell them? ‘You need to play better,’” Ray said.
Kills by Hohn and McDowell and several hitting errors triggered the comeback.
“Coach Ray told us it was basically up to us. We just sucked it up and weren’t going to let anything hit the floor,” Hohn said