Elida Class B champs again

Kevin Wilson

Long before she was in Carrizozo, Pam Allen was coaching volleyball in the 1970s, when a novel idea called the state championship was implemented.

And ever since Sandia defeated Rio Grande in 1973, the gradual addition of six classifications and numerous title sites across the state have never changed one fact.

“It’s tough to win at state when you haven’t been in it,” Allen said. “It just does bizarre things to the mind.”

Saturday was plenty of evidence, as an experienced Elida team calmly took care of business Saturday, sweeping the inexperienced Grizzlies 25-15, 25-23, 25-20 at the Santa Ana Star Center.

With the victory, Elida (20-4) claimed its second Class B title and the fourth volleyball championship in school history.

“I know I’m a lot more settled today than I was last year,” Elida coach Darrell Chenault said. “Clovis Christian (which was swept by Elida Friday) said that wrecked them.”

Sophomore Kaylen Jasso had 20 kills in the sweep that helped cement the Tigers’ hold on the 2-year-old Class B. Elida defeated Grady in the inaugural Class B title match last season.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Chenault and the program he’s got going,” Allen said. “That team is a very well-disciplined team. We had trouble getting our offense going (against them). We kind of struggled.”

Elida, meanwhile, rolled through the match, not even having lulls when Jasso went to the bench on rotations. In what was likely Carrizozo’s best chance to steal momentum, the Tigers actually outscored the Grizzlies 24-22 during stretches with other Tigers carrying the load.

“We don’t focus on one person; we’re a team,” senior setter Micah Massey said. “Just one player going out doesn’t make a big difference.”

The Grizzlies led during just three stretches in the second game — a 10-6 advantage with Jasso on the bench, which Elida eliminated before she got back, and leads of 17-16 and 18-17 -— but trailed the rest of the afternoon and never threatened after falling behind 8-0 in the third set.

“We just had some big runs,” Chenault said. “They tried to come back, but it’s tough when you get that far behind.”

Freshman middle blocker Lisa Ventura led the Grizzlies with six kills, while junior Victoria Ventura added five.

The Grizzlies (20-5) could well meet Elida in the third Class B title game. Their roster has no seniors, four juniors and three sophomores.

“I never went home from practice angry, I never wanted to cut a toe off (in frustration),” said Allen, who led Goddard (1980) and Capitan (1988) to their first state titles. “I’ve enjoyed them tremendously.”

Elida will be strong as well, losing Massey and Kaylee Tibbs.

“We have some very good setters and very good hitters coming back,” said junior Reda Allison, who had four kills and two aces in the match. “We’ve just got a great attitude.”