RUIDOSO – It’s worked on a regular basis in this young volleyball season. Ruidoso goes to a tournament, does poorly, comes back home and wins a crucial match.
The latest playing out of that scenario came Sept. 12, as the Warriors took on Tularosa and won in three, 25-22, 25-8, 25-21.
This came after a less-than-stellar showing at the Zia Classic in Roswell over the weekend.
“In those tournaments, we’re playing a lot bigger teams,” said Ruidoso junior Gracie Hooker. “When we get back home and play teams closer to our level, we feel very comfortable. At those tournaments we feel very down on ourselves.”
“We competed a little bit against Espanola (in the Zia Classic), but we fell apart toward the end,” said Ruidoso coach Kellie Smith. “It was very frustrating. What we saw tonight wasn’t the team that played at the Zia tournament.”
Against Tularosa (2-3) the Warriors struggled a bit to start. They had 7-0 and 12-3 leads in the first game, but saw that lead evaporate as the Wildcats got to within two points on a pair of Ruidoso errors.
After that, it was a matter of the Warriors (2-5) simply surviving. Ruidoso got to game point serve following an ace serve by Hooker, but then lost it to Tularosa following an error.
Wildcat Isabel Gonzalez proceeded to score two more service points before finally serving it out and giving Ruidoso the victory.
As difficult as things were for the Warriors in the first frame, they were easy in game two.
After spotting the Wildcats a brief 1-0 lead, Ruidoso took off on eight-straight points with Erika Jarvis at the serve and never looked back.
“We were playing more as a team, and the connection was there,” Hooker said. “The chemistry has been building every time we play with each other.”
Following that easy victory, the Warriors seemed poised to cruise to the sweep, but game three was anything but easy.
Ruidoso’s largest lead was never more than two points until the very end, and the Wildcats led much of the frame.
Why the difference?
“In that third game, we got a little ahead of ourselves, thinking we had this,” Hooker said. “We had to work a little bit harder for it.”
Whatever the problem, the Warriors righted the ship near the end, scoring five straight points with Alyssa Colmenero at the serve. That included a pair of kills by Hooker.
Hooker also ended things with a resounding kill at match point.
“If we can develop consistency, and not just as a team, but individually, we will do well,” Smith said, “That’s the story we’re seeing. We’ll have a great practice, then the same group of girls comes in the next day and it’s a completely different practice. I think we just have to figure ourselves out.”
Now that there are no more tournaments – at least not until the District 4-4A tourney at the end of the regular season – Ruidoso can get into the practice-game-practice-game routine, starting with a home contest against Hatch on Thursday.
Hooker welcomes the pace.
“I love playing with my team,” Hooker said. “Building on what we’re doing now, I think we can do extraordinary things.”