Elida girls movin’ on up

By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff writer

ELIDA — The Elida Lady Tigers are still living the dream after beating the Fort Sumner Vixens in four games in the District 3-1A tournament championship game Saturday afternoon.

After dropping the first game, Elida (21-0) won the final three games to take the crown, and although they are unbeaten this season, Elida coach Darrell Chenault knows what is at stake in the postseason.

“Our record right now doesn’t mean anything. If you get beat at this time, your season is over,” Chenault said. “So, we’re going to have to come back next week hard, and work on some fundamentals and really get our mind straight on what we’re doing.”

But the match began as a nightmare for Elida. The visiting Vixens shocked a gymnasium packed with purple, winning the first game 25-14.

“We were really down, we were down on ourselves,” Chenault said. “We beat ourselves up when we make mistakes, and we really struggle with that.”

While the Elida girls were down, second-seeded Fort Sumner were riding high on the first-game victory.

“They were excited,” Vixen head coach Lisa McMath said. “We felt we could come in and do the things that we needed to win. And I think they kept that for a couple of games, but then they lost their confidence.”

The home team took a 18-11 lead in the second game, before the Vixens fought back and scored 13 of the next 19 points, including several kills from Alex Owens, to force a 24-24 tie. However, the Lady Tigers won four of the final five points, capped by a steaming kill from Janice Taylor, to win the second game 28-26.

“We just never give up, we always try hard,” Elida senior Alicia Cross-Smith said. “We shake off the last point, and we never give up. We’re a very strong team, and we really don’t like to give up.”

Elida took charge in Game 3, jumping out to a 10-4 that included a pair of Lindsay Ward aces. The Lady Tigers held on to win 25-19.

The Lady Tigers scored 12 consecutive points to take a 14-3 lead, including five kills from Taylor, spelling disaster for Fort Sumner in the fourth game. Elida went on to a 25-16 win.

“We talked in the huddle in between games, that if we just corrected our problems we’d get back in the ball game,” Chenault said. “Our serves were going way out. We were just too pumped up there in the beginning.”

Elida will host a first-round state tournament match Friday night against District 2-1A runnerup Temple Baptist.

Fort Sumner will face 2-1A champ Victory Christian on Saturday at Hope Christian in Albuquerque.