Serving the High Plains

Lady Rattlers win bracket at SFIS tourney

The Tucumcari High School volleyball team on Saturday took home its second first-place trophy this season after winning its bracket at the Lady Braves Pink Classic tournament at Santa Fe Indian School.

After splitting three two-set matches during pool play Friday, the Lady Rattlers were assigned to the Bronze Bracket, one of four at the tourney.

There, Tucumcari defeated Zuni 25-9, 25-21, 25-15 in the opener and downed Mora 25-21, 25-21, 25-17 in the finale.

Against Mora, Caylee Benavidez led the Lady Rattlers with 11 kills, while Haisley Huffman added eight. Harley McKinney totaled four service aces.

Against Zuni, Benavidez pounded down 15 kills, with sister Cambree Benavidez adding seven. Alexis Ramirez totaled five aces.

Tucumcari’s senior libero, Alexus Lafferty, totaled 46 digs during the two matches and was named to the all-tournament team as the Lady Rattlers improved to 9-2 overall, their best start in many years.

Tucumcari also won the season-opening Logan Invitational tournament.

Tucumcari coach Dana Benavidez said she tried to give her team’s offense different looks to keep the opposition off-balance.

“We’d been working on some different hitting offenses — running quicks out of the middle and doing shoots to the outside,” she said. “We’re trying to mix it up some, and it really has helped us progress our team. We played really, really good.”

Tucumcari is ranked seventh in the latest Class 3A coaches poll and fifth in the ratings.

Benavidez also singled out sophomore July Lafferty for her play during the weekend.

“She played phenomenal,” she said. “She had some of the best games she’s had. She had big blocks and gave us good hitting in the middle.”

Benavidez’s team is not dominated by a few superstars.

“I’m proud of every single player on that team. We took 12 of them to the tournament, and all of them did their part,” she said.

Tucumcari goes on the road all this week with games scheduled Tuesday at Santa Rosa, Thursday at East Mountain and Saturday at area rival Logan.