By Eric Butler, Freedom Correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — Two words can accurately describe the South’s performance in the Class 1A-2A All-Star Series — utter domination.
Although the South only breezed through one game, it won for the 21st time in the 24 years of the series on Tuesday as Tularosa’s Sabrina Herrera put away 16 kills and Fort Sumner’s Alex Owens added 12 in the 25-21, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22 victory.
“I was really nervous because I hadn’t played in a real high-intensity game besides my junior year,” said Herrera, who recorded eight kills and an ace in the second game. “This was great, it was fun. I got all emotional because it was my last game and I’m not playing college ball. It was a good way to end it.”
The South opened the match by registering the first three points and then clung to a small margin almost the entire way. After the South won the second game convincingly, the match seemed destined for a sweep.
But the North, led by hard-hitting Alicia Garcia of Mora, bounced back with a third-game win. Garcia pounded 15 kills to lead the North, which recovered from a 20-18 deficit with a 6-1 run to turn the tables.
However, it was back to business for the South in the fourth game. Clinging to a 14-13 lead, a kill by Capitan’s Kelsey Campbell set off a 5-0 run as Melrose’s Zanessa Dodd served for four straight points.
With a 24-22 advantage, the match ended when Estancia’s Kayla Dominguez came in to serve and ripped a deep ace.
“It was really exciting. I had fun,” said Elida’s Lindsey Ward, who only found out about the South’s historical dominance after the match.
“That’s awesome. I hope it continues,” said Ward, who had a pair of kills, a block and an ace in the match.
Ward’s teammate from Elida, Alicia Cross-Smith, as well as Owens and Dodd, insured that it would be very difficult to beat the South.
Before practice officially began in Albuquerque, the trio of players worked out together in various locales across Eastern New Mexico.
The initiative for cooperation between former rivals came from an overtime loss by the South in the 1A-2A All-Star basketball game earlier this summer.
“Alex and I played at the North/South basketball game together. We had just planned to get really in-synch for this game, because in basketball we weren’t really in shape like we should have been,” Dodd explained. “Alex and I have been practicing together for the last three weeks. Me, Alex and Alicia have been getting together with our old high school teams and we’ve had a lot of fun with that.”
“We started having open gym a little bit, because we were coming in all rusty,” Owens said.
Owens had three of her kills in the fourth game, but Dodd also got into the action when she faked a set and surprised the North with a kill herself.