RIO RANCHO – Throughout the season, the Texico High volleyball team lived by the acronym of COAOC. The Wolverines just wouldn't tell you what it stood for.
The secret's out, after Texico swept Tularosa to finish off its fourth-consecutive Class 2A state volleyball title.
“During the summer, our coach always told us to stay classy,” senior Victoria Richards said of the “Classy On And Off Court” mantra. “Being classy on and off the court was the best way we could represent God.”
What the “C” didn't stand for, however, was challenged, as the Wolverines (22-1) finished off the four-peat with a 21-match winning streak and a sweep over the upstart Wildcats Saturday at the Santa Ana Star Center.
Behind a dominating attack from junior outside hitter Hannah Syling, Tularosa staked out an early 11-2 lead on Texico – with Syling accounting for five kills. But the Wolverines shifted to a double block with a rotation of Katlin Luscombe and Jordyn and Jaylyn Cooper, and held Syling to six kills the rest of the morning.
“That was the gameplan going in, setting up Jordyn and Jaylyn on the block,” Texico coach Kristen Scanlan said. “We knew that if we could block her from the outside, we would be able to dig up the stuff in the middle.”
Texico responded with an 11-2 run of its own, pulled out a close first game and ran off leads of 16-3 and 8-1 in the next two sets. The Wolverines saved their biggest runs for when Syling, the option nearly every time on the front row, was in the back row on Tularosa rotations.
“I told we really wanted to pick on them when she was in the back row,” said Richards, who had six kills, “because all she could do was back-row hit.”
Tularosa (21-4), outscored 27-32 with Syling on the front row and 23-39 with her on the back row, didn't have enough offensive options to compete with Texico in the match, coach Joseph Sanchez said.
“We don't have a 10,” Sanchez said. “We just didn't have an answer for No. 10, Katlin Luscombe. She's just a great player.”
Luscombe, who led Texico with 12 kills, said winning four state titles in four seasons was an amazing and rare experience.
“It's unbelievable,” said Luscombe, who added three blocks. “Most people don't ever get to the state tournament all through high school. It's really amazing and it's nice to go out that way.”
Texico returns six players, including Jordyn (six blocks) and Jaylyn (eight blocks) Cooper, libero Erin Scanlan (match-high nine digs) and setter Fallon Scanlan (31 assists). But the squad loses six seniors who made up the foundation of the four-peat.
“I told them they could all start for any program in the state,” Coach Scanlan said of her seniors. “They got the team focused and they're going to be very difficult to replace. Whether they started or they were on the bench, they were great leaders.”
Meanwhile, Tularosa hopes this season, including a five-game semifinal upset over Jal, is a start of a big 2010 season. The Wildcats return 10, including Syling, for next year's squad.
“They're solid, they're experienced,” Sanchez said of Texico. “That's what we'll be next year.”