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Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Eagles hunt down Lions, bag district title

Staff Writer

VAN HORN, Oct. 24, 2000 -- The Pecos Eagles were dominating when they had to be  and the Clint Lions were generous when they couldn't afford it Monday  night in Van Horn, and the combination meant a District 2-4A volleyball  title and a first round playoff bye for the Eagles.

In a one-game playoff for first place, the Eagles took control early on in Game 1 and never let the Lions get their offense in gear, as Pecos cruised to a 15-4 victory. In Game 2 the Eagles slacked off a little, but the Lions committed a series of unforced errors that kept Pecos out of trouble and sent them on to a 15-9 win and their second district championship in three years.

"We were ready in Game 1. We talked about it before we got on the bus about what we needed to do tonight, and they were very relaxed and didn't feel any pressure," said Eagles' coach Becky Granado. "We knew what we had to do, it was just a matter of doing it."

A rally midway through the opening game pretty much set the tone for the match. Clint was already down 8-4 and but had scored two straight points when the Eagles' back line got to three straight spikes by the Lions, then finally broke serve on a spike into the net by Michelle Tullius. Michelle Saenz then blocked Marissa Arnold for a point, which started a 7-0 run by Pecos that finished out the game.

It was the third block for point in Game 1 for Pecos. Earlier, D'Andra Ortega had blocked a dink attempt by

Janeth Sanchez and Philly Fobbs blocked a Tullius spike as Pecos jumped out to an 8-2 lead.

"Michelle and D'Andra did a fantastic job blocking," said Granado. "I knew if we started blocking them they would just start dinking the ball over."

Meanwhile, Fobbs was outplaying Clint's Collanne Bramblett, who struggled to get her game going throughout the match. Bramblett had three straight bad spikes in Game 2 after Clint took an early 2-0 lead, and only had one point on her own, off a block of Fobbs with Pecos ahead 14-8 at the time.

"They split up their big blockers (Bramblett and Tullius) and that was to our advantage," said Granado, as Fobbs had a series of kills in the opening game, and also came up with several in the early part of Game 2.

Later on, though, the senior ran into problems of her own, hitting the ball out of bounds, which helped the Lions keep things close. "Philly just lost her composure at the end, but it was good to see the other girls pick it up, so we know we don't have to depend on her all the time," Granado said.

Clint was within 9-8 after a bad spike by Ortega when Kayln Lara hit a ball that rolled down the length of the net and fell in to break serve. Ashley Salcido followed with a dink for a point, and then three unforced errors and a block of Tullius by Ortega got the Eagles to within match point. Pecos missed a couple of chance to end the match, but outside of Bramblett's block on Fobbs, the Lions never could mount a challenge the rest of the way, due to their own mistakes.

"When we got close to 15 points you could see the pressure get to them and they started making a lot of mental mistakes," Granado said. A dink by Fobbs finally ended things, and sent the Eagles on to the area round of the Class 4A playoffs Halloween night.

The Eagles improved to 27-8 and finish 9-2 in district, but won't know their playoff opponent until this Saturday, but before then Granado said Pecos may play a playoff practice game in Andrews against Denver City. Clint fell to 16-12 and 8-3, and will host El Paso Bowie in their bi-district playoff game on Saturday. It will be part of a doubleheader, with El Paso Mountain View facing El Paso Burges in the other bi-district match-up.

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