By Eric Butler
ALBUQUERQUE — The Clovis Lady Wildcats will likely have to settle for runnerup in District 4-5A again this year.
Two-time defending champion Eldorado completed a season sweep Saturday, beating the Lady Wildcats 18-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-20 in a nip-and-tuck battle to take two-game lead in the district standings.
Eldorado (13-3, 5-0 in 4-5A) is the clear favorite to host the championship match of the 4-5A tournament with its eighth-straight win over Clovis.
Eldorado defeated Clovis (13-3, 3-2) in five games on the Wildcats’ home floor in their first meeting.
Stellar serving from the Eagles, combined with receiving miscues from the Wildcats, turned the tide in favor of Eldorado.
After Clovis won the first game, the Eagles soared to a big lead in the second when Meghan Navarro served her team to six straight points. That helped turn a slim 11-9 Eldorado lead into a 20-9 advantage.
“I think their serves have a little more float than everybody else’s does. They move from side-to-side and up-and-down,” said Monique Walker, who led Clovis with 17 kills and five blocks. “We need to get around the ball and keep it in front of us instead of reaching from behind.”
Game three turned out to be the crucial point of the match.
Tied at 23-23, the Clovis bench felt a lift violation should have been called on Eldorado during a scramble at the net. But the Eagles got the point and, and a dink from Navarro to win the game.
“Right at that critical point, we make a play and they make a save — the setter does nothing besides put it on her palm and flip it up — and they didn’t even get a call,” said Clovis coach Darrel Ray, who ultimately received a red card from officials for arguing the matter.
In the fourth game, four consecutive aces by Roxanne Luera propelled Clovis to a 9-4 lead. But Eldorado again rebounded, finally winning the match on a kill by Caitlin Whitacre.
“We really wanted to play our final (district) game here,” Eldorado coach Cindy Chavez said. “If it happens to be Clovis, it’s going to be a pure war.”