By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
YOU WOULD THINK THE Texico Lady Spikers might struggle with Class 2A all-state outside hitter Lori Richardson starting the season on the bench with an ankle injury.
To put it mildly — they haven’t. They are undefeated in two matches into the season, not losing a game against Capitan or Floyd.
“There is no replacing Richardson, but (other) girls have filled in nicely,” coach Mike Littlejohn said.
He said seniors Stephanie Bailey and Erika Autrey have picked their game up and sophomore setter Bryn Mayfield has taken her game to a new level — a scary thought considering she was first-team 2A all-state last season.
The prognosis is good for Richardson, who could be back in a couple weeks. Adding another all-state player to a squad playing this well could make Texico hard to beat.
She will, though, almost certainly miss Tuesday’s key District 6-2A match against Estancia.
Estancia knocked Texico out of the state playoffs last November in heartbreaking fashion, winning the final three games after being down 2-0.
“There have not been too many days since November 10th that I haven’t thought about that match,” Littlejohn said. “I have been waiting to play them again for a long time.”
Texico is trying to focus on tonight’s match with Lovington, but Littlejohn admits it’s hard not to look ahead.
“We talked to our girls about it,” Littlejohn said. “We aren’t going to look past Lovington, just like we didn’t look past Capitan or Floyd. But after (tonight), you better believe we will be getting ready for Estancia.”
TATUM DIDN’T JUST WIN the Clovis Invitational tournament, the 1A school squashed the rest of the field. The Lady Coyotes dominated Moriarty, St. Michael’s, and Clovis in bracket play.
How much? In its final three matches, Tatum didn’t lose a single game, winning all but one of them by at least 10 points, and outscored its opponents by a total of 106 points.
FORT SUMNER IS FEELING the sting of losing six players to graduation. They are 1-2 to start the season and coach Lisa McMath said the team’s struggles are directly related to the lack of experience.
“We had problems with communication and chemistry,” McMath said. “That is something that is going to happen when you have young team. We only have two players who have played varsity before.”
Those two players, outside hitters Julie Wood and Lindsay Mansell, combined for 14 kills in the Vixens’ win over Grady on Tuesday. They will have to continue playing well if Fort Sumner hopes to have success this fall.
CLOVIS CHRISTIAN, A TEAM with six seniors, is getting big-time production from two freshman and an eighth-grader. In the Lady Eagles’ season-opening win over Gateway Christian on Tuesday in Roswell, freshmen Jennifer Schaap and Lauren Douma combined for 14 kills while eighth-grader Amber Odegaard was 12-for-14 on serves.
“They want to learn the game,” veteran coach Ceil Boatman said. “They are soaking it up like a sponge. Every day you can see their confidence level go up a little bit.”
Boatman credits the junior high program for producing varsity-ready players. One of Boatman’s former players, Tisha Brothers, is the junior high coach.