Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Demons, Lady Braves begin state tournament journey Tuesday | Sports

40 volleyball teams are faced with this task when they take to the field on Tuesday for the opening round of the national volleyball tournament.

For the first time since 2019, all five classes will use a 12-team double elimination postseason bracket. The difference, however, is that the opening round is now referred to as a “play-in” match, with the winner going to the quarter-finals on Friday when the doubles elimination part begins. The top four in each class will receive a bye to the quarter-finals.

Santa Fe Indian School head coach Brian Gurule, whose No. 6 Lady Braves will face No. 11 Zuni in the Pueblo Pavilion on Tuesday, said the new format is putting pressure on the opening round.

“The big thing is that we have to play [well]”Said Gurule. “You have to play. If we play the way we can, we’ll be fine. And I know we are capable of some good things. “

SFIS comes from a District 2-3A season that ended up behind Las Vegas Robertson and St. Michael’s, the top two seedlings in 3A, in the overall standings to secure a home game. The Lady Braves have a strong punch combo with senior Cameron Conners and second Angelina Geissinger, but the advent of Junior Shade Phea-Young has added another weapon to the net.

Gurule said his team’s success is determined by passing and serving, which have improved but need to be more consistent.

“We have to stay focused and just play hard,” said Gurule.

Focus is a key element that Santa Fe High head coach Josie Adams has been emphasizing since the start of the season. After a 3-7 start, the Demons 10-1 and Los Lunas tie for the District 5-5A title.

Adams said the team worked to limit non-forced errors that allowed opponents to run huge runs early in the season. These have been very rare in the past five weeks.

“We’ve talked a lot about how nobody will let us take big runs,” said Adams. “In practice, we work a lot to prevent that from happening. We have to keep the ball in the system and not allow the teams to take two, three or four points in a row. “

Santa Fe High grabbed the ninth seed and is in No. 8 Albuquerque Sandia will face a familiar opponent who were district opponents until the realignment began in 2020. The two battled for the 5-5A title in 2019, but have been very different teams since then.

One face Santa Fe High should be familiar with is Lady Matadors Junior Outside Hitter Tori Scheler, who was an important reserve two seasons ago.

Santa Fe High countered with junior Ariana Anaya, who has been a pillar of consistency since the beginning of the county season. She’s got double-digit kills since the start of the 5-5A game and topped the spurt with 20 kills against Capital in a November 2nd sweep.

Meanwhile, Santa Fe Prep will travel to Sandia Park for a 3A first round match against East Mountain in an 8v9 match. The teams battled it out over five games on Aug. 31, with the Blue Griffins bouncing back from a 2-1 deficit to win at Prep High School.

In 4A, Pojoaque Valley, seeded fifth, comes after a heartbreaking five game loss to Los Alamos that helped the Lady Hilltoppers secure the District 2-4A title and third overall victory.

The Elkettes meet at No. 12 Kirtland Central at Ben Lujan High School.

Escalante, sixth seed in the 2A row, puts its 13-game winning streak on the line when it takes on Cloudcroft # 11.

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