By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
ELIDA — In a game where neither team could take control, it seemed fitting that a setter ended up with the final blow.
Fort Sumner made good on its fifth chance at match point, as setter Rita Herrera’s bump took a slow bounce off the net and onto Elida’s side of the floor, capping off a 25-18, 19-25, 19-25, 25-18, 18-16 victory Thursday night at Elida High School.
Fort Sumner (9-6, 3-1 District 3-1A) picked up a key victory in the district race with 15 kills for Julie Wood and 25 assists from Herrera.
Vixens coach Lisa McMath felt the win was part of a season-long maturation process.
“We have three freshman out there half of the time,” McMath said. “(There has been) a lot of growing up.”
Fort Sumner looked every bit like the defending Class 1A champion in the first game, when it jumped out to a 20-9 lead and withstood a late 8-0 Elida run. The next two games had Elida repaying the favor by jumping out to huge leads and then holding off late Vixens comebacks.
“I thought they did a good job of keeping the momentum of the game,” McMath said of Elida. “They served aggressively.”
But Elida (6-6, 2-2) couldn’t keep the momentum long enough to close the match out as the Vixens won the fourth game behind five kills from Wood, then jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fifth game.
After Elida took a 15-14 lead on a block by Lindsey Ward, the Vixens scored four of the game’s final five points with kills from Wood, Bree Lucero and Herrera.
Elida coach Darrell Chenault said his team didn’t make the most of its opportunities to put the Vixens away.
“We had the lead in the fourth game and the fifth game,” Chenault said. “We had them on the ropes and just let them go.”