Texico’s Jaryse Harris spikes the ball over Julia Bonestroo in a 3-1 win over Mesilla Valley Christian at the state tournament in Albuquerque on Friday. (Staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — For the second straight year, Texico will play for the Class 2A volleyball championship.
While six Wolverines recorded at least four kills apiece, it was a sparkling defensive effort that carried Texico to a 25-22, 25-16, 16-25, 25-23 victory over Mesilla Valley in Friday’s semifinals in Albuquerque.
“They (the Blazers) brought the ball from every direction. They were bringing hits we had never seen before as far as consistent placement,” Texico coach Mike Littlejohn said. “And their setter did a great job of bringing it over, but this was probably one of our best defensive matches all year. They were just eating the floor up.”
Jaryse Harris led Texico (21-3) with 13 kills, including the final kill of the match and to stave off a Mesilla Valley (20-3) comeback in the fourth game.
“I just wanted to finish it and I didn’t care how we got there,” Harris said. “But I knew we were going to.”
The contest started with a tight first game — one that wasn’t decided until Texico ran off three straight points to break a 22-22 deadlock. All of those Wolverines’ points came via hitting errors from the Blazers, who were led by sophomore Jenae Olson’s 14 kills.
Texico setter Bryn Mayfield and freshman outside hitter Victoria Richards had six kills in the match while Brooke Bailey and Leslie Vannatta contributed with five apiece. Another ninth-grader, Kaitlin Luscombe, contributed four kills and a pair of blocks.
In the second game, the teams were tied at 12-12 when the Wolverines went on a 5-1 run to get some breathing room. Texico continued to build on that streak when, after a Blazers’ point, kills from Mayfield, Harris and Bailey gave the Wolverines a 20-14 advantage.
“They went down the line very consistently,” Mesilla Valley coach Todd Jarry said. “And we just didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders — especially at the beginning.”
Mesilla Valley, however, took control at the start of the third game and gradually pulled away to extend the match before the Wolverines broke away in the fourth and held on.
Saturday’s championship match will mark the fourth time this season that Texico and Estancia have met. Both squads won at home, while Estancia took a third match in the finals of the Cloudcroft tournament.
“We’ve both been kind of looking at it all year as a possibility,” Littlejohn said. “Who knows how the game will end up? But it will be fun.”