The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Plenty of punch left

Small-school brackets full of area teams


November 14, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Texico junior Riley Thompson goes up for the kill against Pecos' Arianna Anaya during Saturday's District 7-2A championship. Texico, winners of the last four Class 3A championships, enters the Class 2A tournament as the second seed. Pool play starts Thursday.

Despite the exclusion of Clovis and Portales from the 5A and 4A brackets, the eastern side of the state is still pretty well represented when the state volleyball tournament starts on Thursday.

Texico is the second seed in Class 2A, and more than half the Class 1A field comes from local districts.

The tournament begins Thursday with pool play and first-round matches throughout Rio Rancho at the Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho High and Cleveland High.

Friday’s quarterfinal rounds and Saturday’s championship will all be held at the Star Center, which will have four courts up in the early matches before a single court for Saturday’s five championship matches — Class 1A at 10 a.m., Class 3A at noon, Class 2A at 2 p.m., Class 4A at 4 p.m. and Class 5A at 6 p.m.

The process of whittling 60 teams down to five champions begins with pool play in all classifications, with each classification holding four three-team pools. Pool play winners get a bye into Friday’s quarterfinals, while the second-place and third-place teams face each other in the first round Thursday.

“If you’re playing well in pool play,” Texico coach Kristen Scanlan said, “you’ll finish at the top in your pool and you’ll be fine. But people not playing well in the pool messes up the bracket, and that’s going to happen.”

In Class 2A, Scanlan felt the bracket had a few surprises, but she had no qualms with Mesilla Valley getting the No. 1 seed ahead of the defending champion Wolverines. The Sonblazers went 16-2 on the season, while Texico went 16-5.

“We had a win over a district champion and played a difficult schedule. Mesilla Valley had a solid record.”

But Texico is hopeful a bracket doesn’t mean much.

“There’s a different intensity, there are different teams,” said Texico senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Roderick, who had 14 kills in Texico’s District 7-2A championship sweep of Pecos Saturday night. “I think it’s a hard field, but I think Texico can come out on top.”

Scanlan said the team is confident, but knows nothing is assured.

“We’re playing our best volleyball,” said Scanlan, who has coached Texico to eight titles in her first 10 seasons as head coach. “I think they should be confident. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to face some tough competition and challenges, but we are confident.”

In Class 1A, there should be a lot of familiar faces. District 6-1A includes top-seed Logan, second-seed and defending champ Melrose, seventh-seed Fort Sumner and eighth-seeded Grady. District 4-1A is basically Pool C — third-seed Elida, sixth-seeded Tatum and No. 10 Gateway Christian.

The Buffaloes are 19-3 and started the season 10-0. All of their defeats are courtesy of Logan (18-3), which leads the season series 3-1 and also lost to Friona and Texico.

“I think they got it pretty dead on,” Melrose coach Casey Jackson said. “It isn’t great that Elida, Tatum and Gateway from the same district are in the same pool, but that’s how it worked. Everyone up there is going to be good. All 12 can play, so you’re not going to be able to have an off game.

“It’s not too concerning because I think we’re prepared for it. But we’re going to have to compete.”

Elida (20-3) may be the darkhorse, with a streak of eight straight title game appearances, and last year’s loss to Melrose its only runnerup finish. Their only losses this season came to Mesilla Valley, Tatum and Tularosa. Attempts to contact Elida coach Darrell Chenault were unsuccessful.

Grady (12-8) is hopeful to have a good tournament after playing the entire season in what is arguably the classification’s most competitive district. The Bronchos faced both of their Pool A opponents this season — Logan twice and No. 12 Santa Fe Waldorf once. But Grady coach Rebecca Burns said Waldorf may be better than their record due to midseason injuries to key players.

There’s confidence in Grady, along with concerns.

“I’ve got four seniors, but other than that it’s an extremely young team,” Burns said. “We don’t want to get overwhelmed. We want to take it one step at a time and try not to let any moment be too big.”


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