Texico High School junior Seneca Turner passes the ball during Friday’s practice at Texico Sports Arena. Photo by Eric Kluth
By Dave Wagner
Texico senior Sissy Loper earned All-District 6-2A and second-team Class 2A all-state honors as an outside hitter last season, helping the supposedly rebuilding Lady Spikers post an 18-4 record.
When setter Melissa Roberts transferred to Clovis this summer, veteran Texico coach Mike Littlejohn turned to Loper with the possibility of becoming the team’s new setter.
While it hasn’t been a totally smooth operation, Loper is making progress in adjusting to her new role as essentially the quarterback on the court.
“It’s very confusing right now, but it’ll be OK,” Loper said. “I just have to do whatever it takes. I miss hitting, but you have to do what you have to do.”
Littlejohn, who has taken teams to state championship matches eight times (winning four) and suffered only one losing season in 24 years at the school, said he sees progress as well.
“Sissy works hard and does what you ask her to do,” he said. “It’ll take some time; she’s a perfectionist. She just needs reps (repetitions of drills) now.
“Our whole team needs reps right now. We’re trying to do a lot of fundamentals (in practice).”
Texico must replace six of its top nine players from last year, when the then-defending 2A champion Lady Spikers lost by two points in the fifth game against Hope Christian in the regional semifinals. Other returning regulars are right side hitter Ashley Littlejohn (the coach’s daughter) and left side hitter Ashley Kidd, both juniors.
Mike Littlejohn said the team had to work around absences for the Curry County Fair during two-a-days last week, but he thinks the Lady Spikers will round into form over time.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good,” he said. “It’s just going to take some time. We’re going to have to mesh the parts together.”
Loper is satisfied she’ll eventually be able to make the transition to her new position.
“At first I was frustrated because I wasn’t getting my feet right and the ball wasn’t going where I wanted,” she said. “But (coach Littlejohn) talked to me and said, ‘Don’t worry; you’re not going to be perfect.’
“We’re a young team, but we’re starting to learn who’ll do what. We have a lot of good hitters and everyone’s adjusting to everything real well.”