By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — Even though Elida has beaten Fort Sumner three times this season, the Vixens won’t get any sympathy from Lady Tigers junior outside hitter Janice Taylor.
Taylor helped Elida fight off a spirited upset bid by Clovis Christian in Thursday’s Class 1A state quarterfinals at Tingley Coliseum in the Lady Tigers’ 25-11, 27-25, 25-22 victory.
Now Elida (21-0) turns its attention to the Vixens (15-6), a team the Lady Tigers had defeated only once (in 2002) since they’ve been District 3-1A rivals prior to this year. They meet in a noon semifinal match today.
“They’ve beaten us in the past I-don’t-know-how-many-times,” Taylor said after posting seven kills against the Lady Eagles. “This is the first year we’ve really come out and beat them.”
Facing Fort Sumner again will be no day at the park, Elida coach Darrell Chenault added.
“We know it’s going to be a war,” he said. “Each team is going to get their licks in.”
Senior Alicia Cross-Smith compiled nine kills and three blocks for Elida, while sophomore Jennifer Schaap led CCS with nine kills and a couple of aces.
For just a brief moment, after burying CCS in the first game, it looked like Elida might have some trouble making it through to the semifinals.
The Lady Eagles (17-6), playing in the state tournament for the first time since joining the NMAA earlier in this decade, erased what had been a nine-point deficit and moved in front 25-24 in the second game with six consecutive points.
A kill by Elida’s Lindsey Ward tied the score again, and Alicia Cross-Smith blocked Clovis Christian’s Cristen Wofford on game point for a 2-0 lead. The Lady Eagles then took a pair of one-point leads late in the third game before Elida closed it out.
Lady Eagles coach Ceil Boatman said her team, which mounted an impressive turnaround after falling behind 16-1 in the first game, has nothing to feel bad about.
“They regrouped and they played,” she said of her players. “We just made some mistakes (early), but you couldn’t ask any more of them. They played hard down to the last point.”
Taylor acknowledged that the unbeaten record is probably in the back of the team’s collective minds at times.
“At this point nobody wants to lose,” she said. “You just have to focus on what’s going on right now and just go for it.”
Chenault recalled that his team also had a tough time with CCS earlier this fall in a tournament at Clovis.
“In that second game we were just shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said. “If you mess around and let a team beat you in a game, it just gives them confidence.”
He said the team tries not to think about its perfect record this season.
“We don’t talk about it,” he said. “We just play one game at a time and one point at a time.
“This is a fabulous group. We’re just going to keep riding the wave and see what happens.”