By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
ROSWELL — After a year away from volleyball, Clovis senior Aimee Hilburn got her groove back on Thursday. In fact, it was as good as she’s ever had it in this sport and, as a result, the Lady Wildcats may have just rediscovered their go-to hitter.
Clovis took a tight 25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 26-24 victory on the road over Roswell High as Hilburn pounded 20 kills from her outside hitting position.
Hilburn, one of the standouts on Clovis’ Class 5A state basketball championship team, didn’t play volleyball during her junior year.
“Aimee, when she played alongside Monique (Walker, two years ago), was kind of a secondary choice. Now, Aimee’s the primary target,” said Clovis coach Darrel Ray. “We hope we can pass, we hope we can defend and we hope we can serve the whole time she’s on the front row, because she’s the kind of kid that can get you points.”
“I wasn’t good two years ago, I was just there,” Hilburn insisted after her best night as a prep volleyball player. “I was just an extra body the coach could put in.”
Clovis (3-2) took the upper hand in the match in the third game — a game in which Hilburn had eight kills. Roswell (0-2) led 22-19 when a Hilburn kill gave Clovis junior Cynthia Lucio a chance to serve.
Lucio, who had four aces in the match, kept the Lady Coyotes on their heels as Clovis completed a 6-0 run to finish out the fourth game. All five of Lucio’s serves resulted in disarray for the Roswell offense — leading to free balls in every instance. In three cases, the free balls led to powerful kills from Hilburn, including game point.
Siobhan Flatow added seven kills and eight aces for Clovis, while Jasmine McDonald contributed four kills and a block. Roswell’s kill leader was Samantha Matta, who finished with 10.
The Lady Cats made an even bigger comeback in the fourth game, rebounding from a 22-14 deficit as the Lady Coyotes attempted to force a deciding fifth game.
“We had a hard time stopping (Hilburn) down the line. She was going right over the small blocker,” Roswell coach Bryan Masse said. “I even switched and went to a taller block, but she wasn’t get her hands up in her face. So (Hilburn) still had an open line to hit it all the time. That was one of the things that definitely hurt us.”