By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
TEXICO — A pair of teams expected to make a run for the Class 2A state volleyball team hooked up for a battle Tuesday night. And, no surprise here, it took five games to decide things between host Texico and Estancia.
In the end, the Lady Bears took a 25-16, 16-25, 25-23, 11-25, 15-9 victory. Texico began the year ranked second in the Albuquerque Journal coaches poll while Estancia was No. 4.
The teams have met frequently over the past two seasons, usually with the match going the distance.
“We really started working holes and working spots — trying to play smart ball,” Estancia coach Glenda Noblitt said. “When you have two teams this well-matched, I think it comes down to strategy.”
One such example for Estancia (3-0) came while the Lady Bears held a 13-9 lead in the final game. That came about thanks to a four-point run which included a couple of hitting errors by Texico (3-1).
When the Lady Spikers started to play better, Estancia’s Ashlee Noyes pushed a soft shot into the heart of the Texico defense to put the Lady Bears at match point. On the ensuing play, a missed Texico kill attempt gave Estancia the win.
Katie Rogers led Estancia with eight kills while Texico senior Lori Richardson put down 17 kills to pace her team.
Texico coach Mike Littlejohn pointed to the third game — when the Wolverines held a 22-17 lead that blew up with an 8-1 run by Estancia.
“Game three was the kicker,” said Littlejohn, who also got 12 kills from Erika Autrey and six from Stephanie Bailey. “You can’t let someone score six, seven, eight points in a row without forcing a sideout. They did.”
Estancia 3, Texico 2
Estancia 25 16 25 11 15
Texico 16 25 23 25 9
Kills — Lori Richardsxon 17, Erika Autrey 15, Stephanie Bailey 12. Blocks — Autrey 3, Bailey 2. Digs — Faith Martin 8, Bailey 5, Richardson 3. Aces — Bailey 3, Sara Johnson 3, Bryn Mayfield 2, Leslie Vannatta 2. Assists — Mayfield 48. Records — Estancia 3-0, Texico 3-1. Junior varsity — Texico def. Estancia 2-1 (scores n/a).