By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — The Portales volleyball team wanted to have two things by the time the weekend was over — the District 4-3A championship, and the No. 1 seed in Class 3A. After earning the first Saturday night, the team has no doubts it has earned the second.
“I think we deserve it,” senior Megan Kabrick said. “We have worked so hard this year. We’ve been fighting for this spot. This is what we wanted.”
What they got Saturday was a 25-21, 25-7, 25-13 romp over Ruidoso to reclaim the District 4-3A title.
Portales (18-3) has won nine-straight matches and is 9-0 against Class 3A teams this season. A loss against Ruidoso (8-14) could have put a severe dent in Portales’ lobbying for the top seed, but coach Ruth Chavez felt the 56-minute sweep against the Lady Warriors was the final notch.
“We deserve the No. 1 seed,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said. “I think we proved that tonight.”
Portales and Ruidoso will likely earn one of the top eight seeds in the 16-team format, starting with regional qualifying tournaments next week. The eight winners will make up the two pools that play in the state tournament Nov. 10-12 in Albuquerque.
Ruidoso started hot, challenging Portales early with tough serving. The Lady Warriors had six service aces in the first game and rallied to a 14-10 lead, but junior Amanda Terry served the host Lady Rams to a 12-0 run and both coaches felt the serve/receive was the difference after that.
“I felt we played well early and got our serves in,” Ruidoso coach Steve Brown said. “The other two games, our serve/receive wasn’t where we wanted it. We were moving all around the floor and we never got good sets to our hitters.”
Instead, it was Portales getting all of the right passes and all of the right hits, mostly going to Morgan Hill (10 kills) and Kabrick (eight kills). Hill had six of her kills during a dominant second game for Portales.
“Morgan Hill put it to them to where they just backed away from her,” Chavez said. “I also thought Rebekah Gonzales did a good job defensively and on the serve (with 14 service points).”
Portales raced to a 22-10 lead in the third game, then fought off some trouble and ended it with a kill from Bethany Self.
“I think we all kind of realized we’re fighting for something important,” Kabrick said. “We realized what we needed to do and we went out and did it.”
While Ruidoso was on the end of a lopsided victory, Brown is hopeful to get a high seed by virtue of how his team has played since starting 0-6 and where it plays, compared to the rest of Class 3A.
“I feel that (it should carry some weight) with us playing in the state’s toughest district and finishing second in the regular season and second in the tournament,” Brown said.