Lady Warriors fall short in cliff-hanger

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It had been more than two weeks since the Lady Warriors volleyball team had taken a set. The 4A Valencia Jaguars, along with 3A Fort Wingate had deprived Socorro of a set victory since Sept. 18.

Socorro was in the midst of its most difficult stretch of the 2012 season, and judging by the ferocity in which it came out to play against Cobre on Tuesday night, the Lady Warriors looked more than hungry for a win.

Unfortunately for the home team, the set victories would come, but the match win would have to wait.

The Indians wound up defeating the Lady Warriors in a tightly contested thriller in five sets, 13-25, 26-24, 25-12, 21-25, 15-11.

The loss dropped Socorro to 7-7 on the season, while Cobre improved to 4-5.

“My girls did really well that first set, and I thought, ‘Here is the win we need,’” Socorro head coach Joni Mauldin said.

And in that regard, Mauldin wasn’t wrong. The Lady Warriors came out on fire in the first set, and an Ashley Pyke ace ran the score to 17-7 in favor of the home team. Things were looking up for Socorro.

“My girls shut them (Cobre) down in the first set,” Mauldin said.

A Maria Alderette ace ended the first set at 25-13, and Socorro looked to be in control.

But the Indians had a few aces up their sleeve, and those aces came in the form of Marisa and Natasha Macon. It became apparent that these sisters weren’t your average New Mexico 2A players.

“They’re real good athletes,” Mauldin said of the duo. “To me, they still play like a 3A team.”

And that’s exactly what Cobre displayed in leading their team back from a 1-0 set deficit.

The Indians used hustle plays to power their way to a second set victory, and not even emphatic kills by Bryahna Baca and Maudie Mauldin could salvage a tightly contested second set. Cobre’s Karissa Ortiz rocketed a set-point serve to Brianna Sanchez, which she couldn’t handle, and the Indians tied the match up at one set apiece, 26-24.

Cobre took the third set in dominant fashion 25-12, and the Lady Warriors were in real danger of dropping their fourth straight match.

Luckily for Joni Mauldin and her squad, they still had some fight left in them. Down 21-20 in the possible fourth and deciding set, and riding the momentum of a raucous Socorro crowd, the Lady Warriors railed off five straight points, behind a couple of Maudie Mauldin aces to even the match up at two sets apiece.

But this night belonged to Cobre.

Down 13-11, Socorro’s Maudie Mauldin stepped up to the end line and prepared to blast off her vicious serve, a serve that this season had become a weapon of sorts for Socorro. Mauldin reeled off 18 straight service points against an opponent earlier this year without blinking. An eventual tie seemed inevitable. Strangely, it wasn’t. Mauldin sailed her normally dependable serve well past the end line, and Natasha Macon put the match away on a running kill a few plays later to seal the Cobre victory.

It was the Lady Warriors’ fourth loss in a row, but it was by no means a season-ending blow for Socorro, which is nowhere close to resorting to panic mode. Playing tough matches against tough teams seem to be a part of Joni Mauldin’s plan, and with 12 days left until the onset of district play, no one can say this loss is a bad one.

“I go into those tough matches knowing it’s a possibility we might lose, but we might come out of there with more experience and get ready for district,” she said.

Playing against harder teams, such as Valencia, Ft. Wingate and Cobre, may have been a risky move, but those matches nonetheless give Mauldin’s girls an opportunity to get more touches in the ball against harder teams.

“You play the cards you’re dealt and you work hard, and my girls do work hard.” Mauldin said. “We need to just play our game. Maybe we were going into panic mode a little, then we took a step back and said okay girls, play your game, but relax and have fun.”

Socorro will return to action looking for a road win against Deming on Oct. 9th. The Lady Warriors beat the Wildcats on Sept. 15 in five sets.