Clovis, Portales cruise into semis

CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis sophomore Antiesha Brown hits over Tatum’s Ivery Cardenas during a quarterfinal match at Rock Staubus Gym.

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

Like a fish on a line, Clovis sometimes seemed to be toying with Class 1A Tatum on Friday in the quarterfinals of the 16-team Clovis Invitational volleyball tournament.

The Wildcats went out to substantial leads, let the Coyotes creep back to within a couple of points, and then put away any hopes of a completing a comeback.

With the 25-17, 25-12, 25-21 win, Clovis (1-1) moves into the semifinals today at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

After the victory, Clovis coach Darrel Ray was pleased about his team’s play for the day — which also included three pool-play games in the morning — but was also wary about the way the Cats gave Tatum chances to even the match.

“We kind of got off a couple of times, because we’d relax a little bit and we’ve got to change that aspect,” Ray said. “Just because you think you’ve measured them in game one, it may not be that you’re all that good. It may be because they’re not playing as well for that moment.”

Junior Lainey Flatow led Clovis with 15 kills. Jasmine McDonald ended up with seven kills while Antiesha Brown added five kills and a pair of blocks.

Tatum (0-1) was led by L’Deanna Coffer’s five kills.

Tatum coach Mike Majors, who lives in Clovis, was pleased with the way the day went as his team was second in its pool to qualify for the gold bracket quarterfinals in the 16-team tourney.

Two years ago, the little southeastern New Mexico school won the Clovis tournament and beat the home team in the process. Flatow, a freshman on the bench that day, remembered Tatum’s style when it came time to play the Coyotes again.

“I was there that year,” Flatow said. “They were really good at passing and nothing ever hit the floor. But we just had the height advantage tonight.”

In an earlier quarterfinal match, the Lady Rams beat Fort Sumner 25-19, 25-20, 25-15.

“I thought we played a little rusty at times, But we came through,” Portales coach Ruth Chavez said.

“Our hitting was good today. We’re big and we’re running a lot of stuff across the net. I was pleased with our hitting.”

Chavez and the Lady Rams (2-0) are still working to improve their defense.

“We’re working hard on getting our defense strong and we had a few little situations when everybody called in, and we were kind of bundled up,” Chavez said. “But I think it’s been a good day for us.”

The Lady Rams were also able to experiment with different players in different positions.

“I’ve been able to try some different kids and I’ve seen a lot of success in positions I wouldn’t (normally) have and some kids are doing some stepping up and doing some really good things for us,” Chavez said.