Lady Cats survive Hobbs in district opener

Clovis’ Aimee Hilburn spikes the ball past Hobbs’ Lizzette Paz during the third game of Thursday’s District 4-5A match at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

With their main rivals across the net and the District 4-5A volleyball opener at hand, the Clovis High Lady Wildcats were having a tough time Thursday sustaining momentum.

Then, in danger of blowing a two-game lead, the Lady Cats took quick control in the short fifth game and nailed down a 25-23, 31-29, 23-25, 15-25, 15-8 win over Hobbs at Rock Staubus Gym.

Junior Siobhan Flatow got the Lady Cats — and the crowd — going with three quick service points to start the final game, including an ace, and Clovis (11-5) never relinquished the lead.

“That was a little hair-raising,” Clovis coach Darrel Ray said. “Our crowd really helped us tonight, and it was a good way to start district.”

Senior outside hitter Aimee Hilburn had 20 kills for the Lady Cats, and senior middle hitter Brittany Blackmon added 11.

Clovis struggled to two-point wins in each of the first two games, then watched Hobbs pull even by dominating the fourth game late.

“We didn’t have very much energy at the beginning of the first game tonight, but we did what we had to do,” said Blackmon, a basketball standout who is coming around after not having played volleyball since junior high. “I think all of us wanted to win because Hobbs is our rival, and it was the first (match in) district.”

The Lady Cats had to rally from six points down in the first game, finally finishing the comeback on consecutive Hobbs attack errors. Then they saw a 21-14 lead get away in Game 2 before staving off three match points and winning it on a Blackmon kill.

“At times, I thought we were going to win, and then we started making mistakes on our passes,” Blackmon said. “I guess we were just more aggressive (in the fifth game), and we got our confidence going.”

Flatow’s ace pulled Clovis even 10-10 in the fourth game. Hobbs then went on a 5-0 run and cruised down the stretch, but the Lady Eagles (12-5) never got closer than two points in the finale.

“We’d heard they were a good serving team,” Ray said. “It took us a while to get our serve-receive, but I was happy when we finally settled in and started getting some flow.”

Seniors Jasmine Ward and Demetrie Young had 14 and 12 kills, respectively, for Hobbs. Senior middle hitter Kenzie Tabor added seven kills, three blocks and three aces.

“It’s disappointing for us because our kids played really hard,” Lady Eagles coach Brenda Wilson said. “I felt like we just made too many errors tonight.

“But our kids don’t give up. The effort was there tonight on both teams.”

Prep summaries
District 4-5A
Clovis 3, Hobbs 2
Hobbs 23 29 25 25 8
Clovis 25 31 23 15 15
Individual statistics
Kills —
Hobbs, Jasmine Ward 14, Demetrie Young 12, Kenzie Tabor 7, Lizzette Paz 6, Meagan Munoz 5. Clovis, Aimee Hilburn 20, Brittany Blackmon 11, Siobhan Flatow 7, Janell Gallegos 4. Blocks — Hobbs, Tabor 3, Paz 1, Young 1. Clovis, Blackmon 1, Hilburn 1, Jasmine McDonald 1. Aces — Hobbs, Munoz 3, Tabor 3, three tied with 2. Clovis, Cynthia Lucio 5, Flatow 4, Kim Perkins 3, Jessica Russell 3. Assists — Hobbs, Paz 52. Clovis, Sweet 26. Records — Hobbs 12-5 (0-1), Clovis 11-5 (1-0). T — 1:46. Preliminary — Hobbs JV def. Clovis ‘C’ 25-12, 27-25.

District 4-1A
Clovis Christian 3, House 2
House 12 25 25 5 12
Clovis Christian 25 23 21 25 15
Clovis Christian leaders
Kills —
Tasha Daale 23, Sam Barnett 7, Lauren Douma 7. Blocks — Daale 11, Barnett 5. Digs — Daale 6. Assists — Mollie Peterson 41. Record — Clovis Christian 10-6 (3-2).

Non-district
Texico 3, Estancia 1
Texico 17 27 25 25
Estancia 25 25 23 21
Texico leaders
Kills —
Stephanie Bailey 21, Lori Richardson 19, Erika Autrey 12. Blocks — Autrey 8, Bailey 4, Brittany Anderson 3, Richardson 3. Digs — Faith Martin 14. Aces — Bryn Mayfield 5. Assists — Mayfield 32. Records — Texico 10-4, Estancia 14-2.