Lady Warriors take second at Mag Invite

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Socorro Lady Warriors volleyball team was on a roll heading into Saturday afternoon’s championship match against Animas.

They hadn’t dropped a set the entire tournament as they rolled over Quemado, Alamo Navajo, Menual and Mountainair to set up the weekend finale with the Panthers.

On Saturday morning Socorro (6-2) had convincingly beat Mountainair in three sets, 25-8, 25-17 and 25-19, and no one remotely threatened to take a set from them during Friday’s competition. The team was firing on all cylinders through the first set with Animas as it jumped out to a 25-17 win and one-set lead.

“It was a good feeling for the girls,” Lady Warirors head coach Joni Mauldin said.

“Playing that first game, we were ahead of Animas the whole time. Blocks, hitting, defense. Everything just clicked for us. The communication — all of it was there.

“They were very excited, very pumped in to the second game.”

However, that’s right about when the wheels fell off the bus for Mauldin and her squad.

The Panthers pulled themselves together as Socorro unraveled, and reeled off wins in three straight sets, 25-13, 25-16 and 25-21.

“They (Animas) took the lead right away and we just mentally broke down,” Mauldin said.

The six-hour lull in between matches on Saturday didn’t help much, and neither did the fact that the Panthers are just a pretty good club.

“Playing a team like Animas, they’re very good defensively,” Mauldin said.

“They’ve always been pretty competitive.”

It wasn’t all sour grapes for Socorro though, as Mauldin said the first set against Animas was the best she’d seen her team play all year, and the first time it really brought everything together. Placing second in a nine-team tourney is also a plus, especially when district and state championship tournaments are held in nearly the same format.

“It’s a good thing in certain ways because they get a lot of touches on the ball, and they’re preparing for district,” Mauldin said. “As much time on that court as they can get is great.”

And in keeping with that philosophy, Socorro will head to Roswell to compete in the Goddard Tournament on Friday where it will face teams even more talented than what they saw this past weekend.

“If you want to get better, you play with people that are better, or quicker or bigger,” Mauldin said.

On the Magdalena (4-2) side of the net, the host team also put in a solid weekend against some squads that compete in higher classes. The Steers were edged out by Mountainair by two points in a decisive fifth set on Friday, but rebounded to post convincing wins over Menual and Quemado.

Socorro returns home for a match against Valencia on Sept. 18, while the Steers visit Hot Springs on Thursday and play host to Quemado on Saturday.