Texico shakes off the rust

Texico’s Lori Richardson spikes past a Santa Rosa defender during the third set of their District final Saturday at Texico. CNJ photo: Eric Kluth

John Eisel: CNJ Sports Writer

TEXICO — Texico dispatched Santa Rosa for the third time this season, 25-20, 25-20, 26-24 Saturday, to give the Lady Spikers the District 6-2A tournament championship.

Texico (18-3) plays the loser of Saturday’s game between District 8-2A title game Sandia and Estancia in the first round this week’s regional tournament.

The Lady Spikers swept Santa Rosa 25-8, 28-26, 25-12 on Oct. 21 in their final regular-season match.

However, in this match, Santa Rosa’s passing was crisper and Lady Spikers were troubled by erratic hitting.

“We looked like we hadn’t played in a week and a half,” Texico coach Mike Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn said his team never got into a rhythm during the match. “Part of it is us and part of it they took it away from us,” he said.

Santa Rosa (12-5) had 10 blocks, led by Melissa Chavez with five.

Santa Rosa coach Johnnie Cain said although his team passed and hit better than in the last game, Texico was up to the challenge on defense. Cain said one of the players told him, “Heck coach, every time we hit something, they’re there.”

Texico edged out five-point wins in the first two games by going on late runs. The Lady Spikers led 18-17 in the first game and 20-18 in the second game before pulling away.
“I think it was one of their better games than what we’ve seen before,” said Texico freshman setter Bryn Mayfield, who had a team-high 22 assists. Many were to junior Lori Richardson, who had a team-high 12 kills.

The Lady Lions jumped built an 18-12 lead, but Texico never let the deficit get to them.

“They don’t get too down, they’re always ready to go,” Littlejohn said. “If you don’t get panicked, you can always get back in the game.”

Highlighted by four assists by Mayfield, Texico went on a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to 20-19.

“We didn’t want it to go four games, we just wanted to win,” she said.

Santa Rosa’s Loretta Sanchez set up Dominique Roybal on three kills as they pushed the lead to 23-20. Sanchez set up on 14 assists, while Roybal knocked down nine kills.

But Texico finished off the match with six of the next seven points. Texico served two aces while Mayfield set up Richardson on two kills during the run.

“We had it won,” Cain said of the game, saying his team may have been playing to lose. However, at the same time Thursday’s five-game win over Clayton may have emotionally drained his team.

“I don’t think we ever got as intense as we wanted,” Cain said. “Thursday was the important game for us because it was what got us into regionals.”