Portales, Elida girls begin state push
Published: Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
Portales and Elida both believe their squads are in better shape heading into the 2007 New Mexico State volleyball championship than they were a year ago. Both the Lady Rams and the Lady Tigers begin pool play today, setting the stage for what both teams hope will lead to a state title this weekend. “We’re coming in better than last year,” Portales head coach Ruth Chavez said. “Because last year we didn’t have Tara (Johnson), she was out with a knee injury, Beth (Self) was out with a knee injury so we’re just coming in a lot more healthy and a more balanced team I think.” The third-seeded Lady Rams begin pool play this afternoon against fourth-seeded Hatch, followed by matches against ninth-seeded Crownpoint and tenth-seeded Sandia before four first-round byes are awarded and the Class 4A brackets begin Thursday at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center. The top two teams in Portales’ pool earn automatic byes into the state quarterfinals. “It’s important that we come out on top of that pool,” Chavez said. “This year so far in the tournaments we’ve been in, we haven’t lost a game in pool. We’ve come out strong.” “They’re excited,” Chavez said. “They’ve been really focussed and excited and ready to play. We’ve worked hard to get here. We’ve had to go through some maturity and growing and all kinds of stuff this season, but I think they’re ready to play.” The Lady Rams lost to eventual Class 4A champion Pojoaque in the state semifinals last year. Fellow Roosevelt County state volleyball hopeful Elida hits the road this morning, with its first pool play match this afternoon against Temple Baptist. “It’s a darn tough pool,” Elida head coach Darrell Chenault said. “We’ve seen Magdalena beat us in three (games) and Animas has beaten them in the same tournament, so we know both of them are very good teams.” Magdalena and Animas are in Elida’s Class 1A pool. “We know we’ve got a tough pool and we’re just going to have to come in prepared for three tough games,” Chenault said. The 1A quarterfinals are Thursday at Albuquerque Academy followed by Friday’s semifinals and Saturday’s championship at Johnson Center. Last year, Elida entered the tournament as the top seed with an undefeated district regular season under their belt but were upset by Fort Sumner in three games in the state semifinals. “I think we’re more relaxed than we have been in the last year or two that we’ve been there,” Chenault said. “We’ve had a couple of really good practices, very loose, but very constructive practices. I think we’re ready.” Portales finished as District 4-3A runnerup to district champ Ruidoso, while Elida claimed district runnerup status to Fort Sumner.
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