By Jesse Wolfersberger: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE —Texico coach Mike Littlejohn belives energy always prevails over emotion.
Littlejohn’s energetic Texico squad defeated Tularosa 25-23, 23-25, 25-14, 25-19 in the Class 2A state semifinals Friday at Eldorado High School.
“You can play on emotion for a while, but emotion runs out and energy lasts,” Littlejohn said. “It lasts forever if you’ve got it. I think both teams played with energy, but maybe we had a little more.”
The first two games were decided by a total of four points, Texico (20-5) taking the first then losing the second. The Lady Wolverines responded by winning the first six points of game three and cruised the rest of the way.
“Those are fun, those are a blast,” Littlejohn said. “It was two great teams hitting knockout punches. Both sides were ripping it, tipping it, making great blocks, great digs. It was one of the best matches we’ve been involved in all year long. Those are fun, kids love those.”
Littlejohn said his team’s outside hitting was one of the things that gave his team the win.
Stephanie Bailey led the Lady Wolverines with 20 kills and Lori Richardson with 17.
“I think our setter is really the key, and our back row, too,” Richardson said. “Without them there is no set and no hit.”
Texico’s setter, Bryn Mayfield, looked like John Stockton on Friday night and not because she was wearing short shorts. The sophomore dished out a match-high 38 assists.
“She’s one of the best setters in the state,” Littlejohn said.
A bashful Mayfield said her position is key to the team, but not necessarily her.
“The setter usually runs the floor just because they’re everywhere, they always get the second hit and they control where it goes,” Mayfield said. “I don’t know, maybe that’s it.”
Tularosa (21-2) looked determined to send the match to a fifth game, up 9-5 in Game 4, but the Lady Wolverines regained the momentum, going on a 17-4 run to put the match out of reach.
“We were very determined,” Mayfield said. “We did not want to lose, and we didn’t get down on ourselves at all.”
Fittingly, Mayfield set up Bailey for the match-winning kill in the fourth game.
The Lady Wolverines face the winner of a late match between Crownpoint and Ramah in the 2A finals at 11 a.m. today at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Gym.
Texico has won three state titles under Littlejohn, the most recent in 2001.
“It’s great. It’s a great feeling to be in (the finals),” Littlejohn said. “You can’t win ‘em if you ain’t in ‘em.”
Richardson said all of the team’s hard work is the reason the Lady Wolverines are playing for the title.
“It’s what you work so hard since August for, and this is payday,” Richardson said.
Sabrina Herrera and Aleesha Allen led the Lady Cats with seven kills, and Megan Baca helped her team with 17 assists, four kills, two blocks, and a dig.