Lady Cats draw Onate

Clovis freshman Tarrah Sweet sets up a teammate during Saturday’s District 4-5A tournament championship match against Hobbs. Sweet had 33 assists in the match.

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

The state volleyball tournament brackets released Sunday yielded few surprises but much anticipation.

“I think (the seeding committee) did a very good job,” Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “(The bracket) was very close to what we wanted to see.”

The District 4-5A regular-season and tournament champion Lady Cats (16-6) landed the fifth seed and will host No. 12 Onate of Las Cruces on Saturday at Rock Staubus.

First-round winners advance to the State Tournament Nov. 9-12 in Albuquerque.

“They have to take the long road to come play us,” Ray said. “We match up very well against them. We are glad that they have to take that seven-hour bus ride and not us.”

All three District 4-5A schools made the tournament: Hobbs is seeded ninth and Carlsbad 11th.

Ray said he and officials from Hobbs and Carlsbad did a bit of lobbying for the selection committee.

“We sent our own rankings to the committee members,” Ray said. “We feel like we maybe don’t get as much media coverage down here, and we wanted to make sure they knew we were here.”

Two-time defending state champion Rio Rancho earned the top seed followed by Mayfield, Cibola and Las Cruces.

For Class 5A, 4A, and 3A this is the first season under a new 16-team playoff format seeded by a committee.
Ray said he likes the new system.

“I like it because everybody could play everybody,” Ray said. “The way it was, every other year we got Las Cruces.”

The Clovis coach said he does not see any of the top seeds falling, although he said Hobbs could make some noise against La Cueva.

“I think they have a great chance to look good there,” Ray said.

In Cass 1A, Clovis Christian (18-5) found itself in an interesting situation. As the District 4-1A tournament champion, they earned the opportunity to host one of the four regionals, however, the New Mexico Activities Association said its gym is too small to host a regional.

“It would have been nice to have it at our gym,” Clovis Christian coach Ceil Boatman said. “But there are restrictions.”

Instead, Lady Eagles got to chose where the regional was played, they picked San Jon.

“It’s nice and neutral,” Boatman said.

After winning its district last weekend, Texico (16-5) also will host one of the four Class 2A regionals. The Wolverines face Dexter on Friday.

“You can’t take anything for granted,” Texico coach Mike Littlejohn said. “One you get there, anything can happen.”

He said his team looked rusty in Saturday’s District 6-2A championship match against Santa Rosa. As the top seed, the Wolverines had to wait more than a week between their last regular season game and the district championship match.

“We were going stir crazy,” Littlejohn said. “At least this time everyone has to wait a week in-between matches.”

In Class 3A, Portales (17-2) landed the top seed. The Lady Rams host No. 16 Wingate on Saturday.