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Lady Tigers win fifth consecutive state title

Staff writer

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RIO RANCHO — The Elida Lady Tigers are the B team no longer.

Elida finished off a resounding return to Class 1A Saturday, beating Carrizozo in four games at the Santa Ana Star Center to wrap off a 26-0 campaign and take the seventh volleyball blue trophy in school history.

The 25-9, 25-10, 18-25, 25-10 victory marks the fifth straight championship for Elida, which won the first four as a member of the phased-out Class B.

“This one feels different because we’re the first team in Elida history to go perfect,” said senior Marily Varela, who had two of her match-high six aces on an 8-0 fourth-game run that closed the door on the Lady Grizzlies. “Being a senior on the team makes it even more special.”

In the fourth consecutive title match between the Lady Tigers and the perennial runnerup Lady Grizzlies, both teams felt graduation losses. But Elida had the talent advantage over Carrizozo (18-7), which reached the title match despite losing senior hitter Kaitlyn Pierson during pool play.

“You’ve got to hand it to Carrizozo; they were without their No. 1 hitter,” Elida coach Darrell Chenault said. “It wasn’t fair for them going in. They were a bit shell-shocked and forced into some different rotations.”

The Lady Tigers, on the other hand, ran like a well-oiled machine, as Varela had two aces during a 9-1 run that put away the first set. Elida controlled the second game with runs of 5-1 and 7-0, and never seemed to be out of control in the match.

“The adrenaline slows down when you’ve been here before,” Elida senior Kenzee Criswell said. “Especially with the crowd and a place like this, being here before helped us calm down and helped us calm our teammates down.”

Elida will lose four seniors from this year’s squad, but brings back Stone and a talented squad to try to extend a 40-match winning streak dating to the 2013 season.

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