Clovis High senior Jessica Hohn goes up for a kill as Eldorado’s Naomi Sanchez (5) and Mary Blankenship attempt to block her during Saturday’s District 4-5A match at Rock Staubus Gym. Photo by Eric Kluth
By Eric Butler
The Clovis High volleyball team spent much of its match on Saturday peering around the bend.
But, when all was said and done, the Lady Wildcats were still unable to turn the corner against District 4-5A rival Eldorado — the school that has largely been responsible for sending Clovis to the postseason the last two years as district runnersup instead of champs.
Clovis squandered 1-0 and 2-1 game leads and, finally, an 8-3 advantage in the deciding fifth game as Eldorado won 17-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-21, 15-11 at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
“We should have won, but we made way too many mistakes. That’s all there was to it — they outplayed us,” Clovis senior setter Tara Ray said. “When they start making a run, a lot of our girls start losing confidence and we just think we’re beat already — then we beat ourselves.”
The Lady Cats won the first game fairly easily. Clovis (11-2, 1-1) rolled out to leads of 18-9 and 22-13 in cruising.
But Eldorado (9-3, 1-0) evened the match by overcoming a 23-22 deficit late in game two. That happened when Clovis players misfired on two kill attempts and the Eagles’ Naomi Sanchez scored one of her own at game point.
Like the first game, Clovis got off to a quick 3-0 lead in the third and held an advantage the entire way, finally pulling away from a 21-19 advantage with four straight points while Ray was serving.
But, as in the second game, Eldorado rebounded in the fourth. The Eagles and Lady Cats were tied 18-18 when the visitors pulled away with a 7-3 run to force the deciding fifth game.
In the fifth, Clovis roared to advantages of 7-2 and 8-3 behind kills from Monique Walker, Aimee Hilburn and Jessica Hohn. Walker led the Wildcats with 20 kills and five blocks while Hilburn and Allisa McDowell added 12 kills apiece.
But the Eagles didn’t quit.
Six straight points while Melanie Buck was serving got Eldorado back into the final game. Consecutive aces from Buck against a faltering Clovis defense tied the game at 9-9 and then put the Eagles ahead for good.
Eldorado finished off the match with a kill from Jessica Hezekiah, an ace by Caitlin Whitacre and, at match point, another kill by Becka Ross.
Hezekiah had a team-high 15 kills for the match.
“We talked about having some heart and wanting this more than they did,” Eldorado coach Cindy Chavez said. “That’s what we were hoping — that we would want it and outwork them.”
The loss left CHS coach Darrel Ray pondering a unwanted, different course for the rest of the district schedule.
“Our thinking was to try to sweep the district. Now, our thinking is going to have to be going to Eldorado and beating them in less than five games,” said Ray, knowing that the margin of victory could come into play as a tiebreaker should both teams be deadlocked in the end. “The only thing that gives us some kind of an out is that it did go five games.”