TEXICO — Fort Sumner and Texico have dominated New Mexico small-school volleyball in recent years, a trend they hope continues this season.
The teams tuned up for postseason play Saturday, with the three-time defending Class 2A state champion Lady Wolverines beating the defending Class 1A champion Vixens 25-13, 25-22, 25-16.
Both teams are ranked No. 1 again this season, but the Vixens (17-3) had problems handling Texico’s size across the front row and were guilty of seven service errors.
“It was competitive (match),” said Vixens coach Lisa McMath, whose program has won five Class 1A titles since 1996. “We needed to capitalize more on our serving. Against a good team like that, you can’t miss all those serves.”
Fort Sumner opened an 8-4 lead in the first set before Texico (19-1), which has won 16 in a row since losing to defending Texas Class 2A champion Bushland in early September, stormed from behind. The Lady Wolverines scored 10 consecutive points for a 19-10 lead before junior Sarah Stinnett’s kill momentarily stemmed the tide.
The second and third games were relatively competitive. Fort Sumner erased a 7-3 deficit to pull even 15-15 in Game 2, but the Vixens could never get the lead.
“I felt like we played really well,” said Texico outside hitter Victoria Richards, one of two Lady Wolverines seniors hoping to complete a four-peat later this fall. “A few times one of their middle hitters would get us on a cutback shot, but we adjusted to it.
“We knew they had good hitters on the front row and back row. No one else has done that to us besides Tatum.”
Sophomore Jaylyn Cooper finished with 10 kills and three blocks for Texico, which had four others with at least four kills. Stinnett led the Vixens with six kills, and also collected 15 digs.
“This is a game I think Lisa and I will try to do every year,” Texico coach Kristen Scanlan said. “She always has a fantastic team by this time of the year.
“They run an offense like (2A contender) Tularosa. They’re not as explosive as Tulie, but their ball control is better.”
Richards acknowledged it would be disappointing is she and fellow senior Katlin Luscombe cannot close out their careers with a state sweep. Texico and Fort Sumner are both off until hosting district tournament championship matches on Saturday.
“I’m really nervous,” Richards said. “I know we’ve been there three times, but this is my senior year, and this one means a little more than the others.”