Socorro shows up on senior night, can’t get by Colts

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The Lady Warriors volleyball team bid an official farewell to their three seniors on Thursday evening in Socorro, and the emotionally charged match with Silver gave spectators plenty to cheer about.

In the end, Socorro was outlasted by the fourth-ranked Fighting Colts in four sets, 26-28, 25-17, 25-18 and 25-21. But the home team Lady Warriors gave Silver all it could handle for most of the match, and sent its departing seniors out in good fashion.

“We played amazing,” senior setter Maudie Mauldin said. “Way better than we have before. We picked up everything, we covered, we were intense.”

Mauldin, along with her Class of 2013 counterparts Bryahna Baca and Marissa Sarate, have all three been integral parts of this year’s Socorro squad, and their presence on the court will undoubtedly be missed by the school, their team and their fellow players.

Every member of the senior trio has posted statistics worthy of either Class 3A or District 3-3A recognition.

“It’s been great. They’re great players,” Mauldin said. “We just play well together.”

That’s exactly how you could describe the entire team’s level of play in Thursday night’s first set.

Socorro looked poised and prepared during the match’s opening minutes as it skipped out to a 9-5 lead. Silver eventually took a 10-9 lead, but an Ashley Pyke kill tied it again at 10. The Fighting Colts went on a quick run to gain a 16-13 advantage, but the veteran Sarate, with her fast and accurate serve, knocked off three straight points from the service to tie it again at 16.

The Colts went up by three again at 22-19, but they were called for a lift and Socorro fought once more to lock the set up at 23 points apiece.

Silver had two set points in front of them at 24-23 and 26-25, but Pyke fought the second one off with a clean block at the net, and Sarate notched the final two points of the set to give the Lady Warriors the early advantage.

“They came out for that first set relaxed, but ready to play and ready to fight,” Socorro head coach Joni Mauldin said. “We had a great practice the day before that led in to this.”

Momentum was also on the home team’s side in the opening moments of the second set as Socorro took a quick 11-6 lead. But the visiting Colts kept their composure, got back to playing their game, and used big kills, good court coverage and accurate blocking to go on a 14-3 run.

Late in the second set, the Lady Warriors began having unexpected issues with their normally superior service game, and Silver held on for a 25-17 win to even the match.

Socorro had been in that same position countless times this season, though. The ebb and flow of their game, while maybe not preferable to Joni Mauldin, has been based heavily on momentum. The Lady Warriors have some talent, that much is clear, but several times this year their emotions have gotten the best of them and they’ve broken down mentally, if even for a few points.

The good news for them on Thursday is sometimes they would drop a second set, only to storm back and regain an advantage with a third set win. When they took a 10-9 lead in that third set, things were looking good.

The not-so-good news for Socorro, however, is that it was playing one of the best teams in the state in Silver, and it used a furious 7-2 to prove just that. They took a 16-12 lead then cruised to a 25-18 win.

The fourth set looked eerily similar to the first three as the Lady Warriors took a 14-10 lead off two Tamera Chavez aces, then tied it at 19 with a Maudie Mauldin kill. But a Silver serve fell to the floor with two Socorro players watching to give it a 22-20 lead, then Kaylee Milligan tapped a soft kill into an open spot in the Lady Warriors defense to give the visiting team a match point at 24-21.

Jazmine Benavidez finished the night off with a serve Socorro couldn’t quite return.

The loss dropped the Lady Warriors to 9-11 overall and 1-3 in district play.

While no one wants to drop a match on senior night and the girls were clearly not happy about it, there is a silver lining to this cloud, no pun intended.

Socorro will get one more opportunity to play on its home court next Thursday when it plays host to Hot Springs for the first round of the District 3-3A Tournament.

“In the locker room, we were talking about how this game tonight wasn’t going to affect anything else, and maybe because of that they played a little more relaxed,” Joni Mauldin said of her team.

“We also talked about this match getting us ready for Thursday night. This was very important and crucial, because if we get that win Thursday we’re headed to play them (Silver) again.”

Socorro split the season series with the Tigers, and both teams won in the fifth set during their respective victories. Whoever wins the match on Nov. 8 will then travel to Silver City for a rematch with the Fighting Colts.

Joni Mauldin said she’ll put less of an emphasis on winning in the coming days, but more of an emphasis on simply working hard.

“They all know that already,” she said. “I don’t need to say that. We’ll focus on doing our job, and doing it well.”