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It took a good deal more effort than in the teams’ first meeting Sept. 1 at Bulldog Pit, but the Artesia volleyball team completed the Eddy County sweep Tuesday against Carlsbad on the road.

The ‘Dogs dispatched the Cavegirls in three straight in their fourth match of the season at the Pit, but head coach Alan Williams says Carlsbad was seeking revenge on their home court.

“It’s the battle between the two big dogs in the county, and those girls came out fired up and ready to play,” Williams said today. “We came out a little flat.”

The Artesia girls dropped the opening game 20-25, and the shock seemed to do them some good. The Bulldogs rallied to take the next two by decisive scores, 25-9 and 25-11.

“We just played kind of sloppy in that first game, made a lot of mistakes,” said Williams. “We did better in the next two to go up 2-1 but then went back to battling and making mistakes in the fourth game.”

Carlsbad took that one 25-22, bringing the match down to Game Five. The ‘Dogs were able to gain the upper hand and hold on, 15-6, for the 3-2 victory.

Jenna Butcher and Gracie Puentes finished with 10 kills apiece for Artesia on the night, Kayla Ledezma had 16 digs, Justena Galindo 35 assists, and Kacey Thurman delivered five aces from service.

Williams said he felt a lack of proper motivation contributed heavily to the Bulldogs’ struggles in the match.

“I just think I need to do a better job of getting the girls ready to play,” said the coach. “I need to do more to get them fired up and excited, and ready for the game.”

By contrast, the Artesia netters were on point Sept. 17 on the road for a 3-0 win over a tough Class 4A Portales squad, besting the Ramettes 25-21, 25-20 and 25-20.

The team underwent difficulties again Sept. 22 versus Hobbs, edging the Eagles in five – 24-26, 25-23, 25-18, 27-29 and 15-9 – but were once more on the mark this past weekend at the Rio Rancho Jamboree, blanking Pojoaque Valley 25-11, 25-9 and 25-19 and notching a quality victory over Los Alamos, 3-1: 25-23, 24-26, 25-12 and 25-20.

“Against Portales, I thought we had our best game of the season,” said Williams. “We also had a big win against Los Alamos in Rio Rancho. They were ranked ahead of us in our class, so the girls were really motivated.

“But when it came to Hobbs and Carlsbad, it just seems like there was a lack of motivation. We played a little lackadaisical and just did enough to win.”

Williams will be looking for the Bulldogs (9-3) to recapture the fire that drove them against Los Alamos and Portales Thursday against Clovis. That match is slated to begin at 6 p.m. at Bulldog Pit and will be themed “Hawaiian Night.” Fans are encouraged to dress appropriately, and prizes will be awarded.

“I hope I can do a better job of motivating them to come out and play their best,” said Williams. “I’d like to see us play with a little more energy and enthusiasm, and hopefully, that will help us play better.”