By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — The Texico Wolverines didn’t let a little thing like losing the first game affect them. After all, they’ve been here before.
Texico, which reached last year’s Class 2A finals, turned the tables on Estancia on Saturday in rallying from a first-game loss to beat the Lady Bears 23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 at Tingley Coliseum for its state championship since 2001.
It was the teams’ fourth meeting this season. In the two won by Estancia, veteran Texico coach Mike Littlejohn noted the Lady Bears rallied after losing the first game.
“These kids have more composure than their years show,” said Littlejohn, who won his fifth state title in nearly three decades as the school’s coach.
“We make silly mistakes sometimes, but they don’t let it bother them.”
Sophomore outside hitter Jaryse Harris had 10 kills, nine digs and a team-best four aces for the Wolverines. Freshman middle blocker Katlin Luscombe added nine kills.
“They’re our biggest rivals,” said senior outside hitter Leslie Vannatta, who added seven kills. “It’s really nice to beat them.
“It was nerve-racking (losing the first game). We just had to get focused and just play our game.”
Littlejohn said his team didn’t play its best in the first game.
“We made too many service errors and serve-receive errors,” he said. “We probably gave them half their points (in that game) on serve-receive errors or missed serves.”
The Wolverines were in trouble in the second game, reaching game point with a 6-0 run capped by junior Brooke Bailey’s block on an Estancia tip try. After a sideout, Bailey squared the match with a kill on game point.
Harris’ two aces helped the Wolverines open a 6-1 lead in the third game. Estancia scored the next three points, but never got any closer.
In the fourth game, the Lady Bears scored four consecutive points to erase a 22-18 deficit. An Estancia misplay gave Texico the lead and the serve, and Luscombe ended perhaps the longest rally of the game by converting a Bryn Mayfield quick-set into a kill.
Luscombe followed by pounding down an overpass on the next point to end it.