By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
ELIDA — The Elida volleyball team was dormant for nearly two weeks before hosting Melrose Thursday night in the District 3-1A semifinals, but the Lady Tigers showed no signs of rust in sweeping the Lady Buffs 25-14, 27-25, 25-22 to clinch a spot in the 1A state tournament.
“We were kind of hesitant, we didn’t know what to expect,” Elida head coach Darrell Chenault said. “Our girls came out and played hard but both teams are really good teams and we’re happy with how it came out.”
“They gave us a lot,” Melrose coach Sonja Moyer said. “They really did, they gave us a lot of points. (We) just really had a hard time getting going. I’m proud of my girls, they gave it their all. They played hard and that’s all I can ask for.”
Elida took control of Game 1 early, and cruised to a 25-14 victory.
The Lady Tigers also jumped out to an early 14-8 lead in Game 2, but the Melrose girls fought back and senior Taneil Roberts blasted a serving ace to pull the Lady Buffs even 21-21. The two teams traded the lead several times late in Game 2, until Elida took back the lead for good with a Nicole Jasso serving ace.
“Both teams just really go with their fire,” Chenault said. “They really rely on their big girls to hit the ball and we do too.”
Elida maintained a consistent lead in the third game, claiming a fast 5-1 advantage. They kept the lead until very late in the game. The Lady Tigers marched right to game-point, leading 24-18, but Melrose scored six out of the next seven points to get to within two points, 24-22. Senior Janice Taylor ended Melrose’s season with a kill to win the game and the match.
According to Chenault, one of his girls’ strengths Thursday was serving.
“We served pretty well,” Chenault said. “We missed some right here in this third game, but our first two games we served really well, kept the pressure on them, kept them having to pass the ball and it worked out for us.”
Chenault said he wasn’t too concerned about Melrose’s flurry of points late in the match.
“I think that’s volleyball,” Chenault said. “Volleyball’s the craziest game in the world. You can get on a run and you just got to weather the storm and get the ball back in your court and you’ll be all right.”
“I’m real proud of what they did,” Moyer said. “I do wish that we would have won, obviously, but there’s some things that you have to accept in life and you have to be proud that they overcame a deficit and came back and did the best they could.”
Elida advances to the District 3-1A finals Saturday evening in Fort. Sumner (5 p.m.).
Elida and Fort. Sumner split their two matches during the regular season.