The 20th-ranked Otero Junior College volleyball team earned its 20th win of the season on Thursday, but visiting Lamar didn't make it easy for the Lady Rattlers as OJC went four sets to get the victory.
"Lamar has some firepower and they're not pushovers and they're great competition," said OJC coach Jordan Willis. "It was great match back and forth and luckily we were up two points in all three sets we won."
The Lady Rattlers jumped out to a 5-2 start in the first set, but the Lady Runnin' Lopes tied the score at 5-5. OJC regained the lead at 10-8, however, Lamar scored three straight points to go in front at 11-10.
The teams exchanged the next five side outs before Lamar scored three consecutive points for a 16-13 lead. The Lady Lopes eventually built the lead to 20-15, before the teams traded three side outs.
Lamar had a 24-17 lead, but Otero made a charge and closed to within 24-20. But a ball-handling error scored the Lady Lopes' final point and they took the first set 25-20.
Brilane Manchego scored a service ace for the first point of the second set, but Lamar scored four points in a row. The Lady Rattlers answered with a 5-0 run, however, the Lady Lopes came back to tie the score at 6-6.
Otero went on a 4-1 run for a 10-7 edge and they eventually built the lead to 12-8. Lamar rallied to within 13-11, however, Ema Causevic slammed two kills for a 16-11 advantage.
The Lady Lopes scored three points in a row to narrow their deficit to 16-14. The teams traded the next five side outs before Lamar scored four consecutive points for a 20-19 lead.
OJC tied the score, but Lamar took a 22-20 edge. But the Lady Rattlers finished the set on a 6-2 run to win 26-24 and tie the match at a set apiece.
Lamar took a 4-2 lead to begin the third set, but OJC went on a 4-1 run for a 6-5 edge. The Lady Lopes scored three in a row, however, the Lady Rattlers scored five unanswered points for an 11-8 lead.
The Lady Lopes tied the score at 11-1 before the Lady Rattlers went on a 6-3 rally to claim a 17-14 lead. Lamar, however, scored eight consecutive points and led 22-17.
Otero had another strong finish as it scored eight of the final nine points to take the third set 25-23. Marissa Schelling scored the final three points.
The Lady Rattlers began the fourth set with a 2-1 lead. But the Lady Lopes took a 3-2 edge. Lamar's lead grew to 5-3 before Otero went on a 6-1 run for a 9-6 advantage.
Lamar closed to within 9-8, however, Otero went on a 5-1 run and had a 14-9 advantage.
The Lady Lopes scored four straight points to narrow their deficit to 14-13 . The Lady Rattlers lead grew to 19-15 before Lamar closed to within 19-18.
The Lady Lopes tied the score at 20-20 and then took a 23-22 lead. The Lady Rattlers again finished strong and scored five of the last seven points for a 27-25 win.
Causevic led the Lady Rattler hitting game with 24 kills. Anouk Van Noord had 11, Schelling had nine and Ashley Alfonso recorded seven.
Manchego led in assists with 34. Shelbi Chino was the aces leader with four and Manchego had two.
Otero (20-2, 4-1 NJCAA Region IX South) will play its final home match of the season on Monday as it will host Garden City (Kan.).
"We're looking forward to sending out our sophomores," Willis said. "They worked so hard to help us get to where we are now. Without their blood, sweat and tears, we wouldn't be exceeding out success right now."
Match time is at 6 p.m. at the McDivitt Center.