By Karl Terry, Freedom Newspapers
ELIDA — A sign above the Elida Lady Tiger’s locker room door Friday night read: “Clear eyes and full hearts can’t lose.”
The Tigers’ hearts remained full throughout the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs as they defeated Temple Baptist Academy of Albuquerque.
In taking the match 25-17, 25-16, 23-25, 25-19, Elida preserves its perfect record at 22-0 and advance to pool play Wednesday at the state tournament in Albuquerque.
While the team’s hearts may have been full, the eyes of a few of the senior players were a little misty after the game as they reflected on their last match at home.
“It’s all you can dream about in your last year,” Elida senior Alicia Cross-Smith said. “You know you’re not coming back, so you just give it 110 percent.”
Fellow senior Lindsey Ward said it was the team’s heart that pulled them out of the third game slump and she predicted that it would be heart and focus that would see them through the state tournament.
“I really love these girls and I’m really excited tonight,” Ward said.
After spotting the Roadrunners six points in the first game, the Lady Tigers roared back to an 18-9 edge before finally salting the game away.
The second game started out the same, however, Temple Baptist kept things tight through the midway point. Ward finished it big for Elida though with eight service points.
The third game was the only one Elida led early ,but Temple tied it at 14 off a Shelby Schreiber serve. A variety of mental errors and poor serves soon had the Lady Tigers in the tank 15-22.
Elida battled back at the end of the game following a huge Cross-Smith kill and two Temple service errors.
Elida took care of business in the fourth game and defense brought home the win.
“We knew after Temple Baptist got upset (in district tournament) they would come back even harder,” Elida coach Darrell Chenault said. “They had something to prove and they got after us.”
Chenault said he was proud of the way his team battled through losing the third game and said while the Roadrunners came back tough, his team created some of their own problems.
“We lost our focus there,” Chenault said. “We missed five serves in that game.”