Clovis senior Monique Walker hammers the ball past a Manzano defender. CNJ photo by Rick White.
By Eric Butler
While the Clovis High volleyball team may have a stumbling block in district rival Eldorado, another 4-5A squad from Albuquerque has even has a more difficult time with the Lady Wildcats.
And Saturday was not the day Manzano would get off the schneid against the Lady Cats as Clovis won 25-14, 25-18, 25-14.
Clovis (16-3, 6-2) clinched second place in district going into the 4-5A tournament next week. The Wildcats will host either Carlsbad or Hobbs on Tuesday and, if victorious, would play another home match on Thursday night.
Top-seed Eldorado will host the district championship next Saturday night.
Manzano (11-8, 4-4) actually had an outside shot of tying Clovis for the second-seed. Since the Lady Cats swept them earlier in the season, the Monarchs needed to duplicate that three-game victory and hope they did it more convincingly.
But counting up point differential became unnecessary as soon as Clovis took the first game. Jessica Hohn, who finished with 11 kills, got seven of them in game one.
“I think they’re a better team against everybody but us,” Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “When we saw them in Albuquerque, it looked like they were a little intimidated. When we saw them today, they looked a little intimidated.
“They’re playing everybody else really, really well. Maybe it’s just the matchups.”
Lady Cats senior Monique Walker, who finished with a match-high 12 kills, initiated an 11-2 run in the second game with one putaway. That streak, in which Walker also scored a couple of service aces, turned a 7-5 deficit into a 16-9 Clovis advantage.
Manzano jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the final game, but Clovis quickly overcame that sluggish start. Three kills by Walker — two thanks to errant long digs by the Monarchs — turned out to be the beginning of a 19-3 streak for the Lady Cats.
“We just have to be a lot more aggressive than we have been against Clovis. We’ve been really aggressive against some of the teams we’ve played,” Manzano coach Carol Barnitz said. “For some reason, we’re just not as aggressive as we need to be against Clovis. That has to change.”
If the two teams meet again in the district tournament, history is on the Lady Cats’ side and it’s something the Clovis players are well aware of.
Senior Alissa McDowell, who had 10 kills on Saturday, thought this win may have embedded Manzano into a further psychological disadvantage.
“I would probably think so. We’ve beat them the last three years almost every game — maybe we’ve lost one out of those,” McDowell said. “Their seniors haven’t seen a victory against us.”