Texico’s Zandi Queener spikes the ball during Saturday’s Class 2A Region C championship game in Texico. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
Texico coach Mike Littlejohn thinks experience can be overrated.
Despite having only four players with state tournament experience, the veteran Texico coach likes his team’s chances of winning the Class 2A crown.
“There are teams that go (to the state tournament) and do well without ever having been there before,” Littlejohn said. “Well, how’d they do that?
“It’s about how that group shows up. Some show up wide-eyed, but this group has played in big matches, even if they weren’t in Albuquerque. I think we’re ready.”
The District 6-2A and Region C champion Lady Wolverines (18-5) head to today’s pool play in Albuquerque having lost only one game in the past six matches.
Texico is in a four-team pool that includes Questa (19-4), Crownpoint (18-6) and Tularosa (20-1).
Pool play is used to seed the eight-team bracket play that starts Thursday.
“I think Tularosa is one of the best teams out there,” Littlejohn said. “Questa is not real big, but they play defense and serve. Crownpoint is basically the same team. They don’t have big offensive weapons, but they play defense and serve well.”
Texico handed Tularosa its only loss of the season Sept. 17 in the Cloudcroft tournament.
Meanwhile, Fort Sumner (17-6) will try to defend its Class 1A crown starting today in a pool that includes Jal (19-5), Cimarron (21-2), and Gallup Catholic (16-7).
“It’s a pretty tough pool,” Fort Sumner coach Lisa McMath said. “I think Jal and Cimarron are two of the best teams in the state.”
McMath said the key for her team is not to play timid.
“We have to come out aggressive,” McMath said. “Attack everything. Serve aggressively, and place our serves.”
McMath said her biggest goal for pool play is not to come out last.
“We just don’t want to play Tatum in the first round,” she said.
Tatum, which won the Clovis Invitational in August, comes into the state tournament the heavy favorite at a perfect 24-0, winning all 72 games its played this season.
Tatum coach Mike Majors said his team’s off-season work ethic is a big factor in their success.
“I go play golf in the offseason,” said Majors, a Clovis resident. “They play volleyball.”
Majors said another factor is the play of his outside hitters.
“Bianca Lopez is one of the best hitters in the state,” he said. “And if she isn’t, Sage Lopez certainly is.”
Majors said his 1995 Tatum team was in a similar situation.
“We had a 50-game win streak going,” Majors said. “I put the JV in and intentionally lost a game just to break the streak. I didn’t want that kind of pressure heading into state.”
Majors’ 2005 team, however, took no such dive.
“These girls need the challenge,” he said. “They need something to work for every day at practice.”