RUIDOSO – First of all, everyone knows that Artesia is a challenge, regardless of the sport.
That ‘s why coaches, players and fans were expecting an uphill climb for Ruidoso’s volleyball team when the Bulldogs came to town, Sept. 19.
But after a 25-12 loss in the first game, in which the Warriors lost on a hit blocked by Malori McSpadden, Ruidoso seemed to simply roll over the rest of the way.
Artesia cruised to 25-6 and 25-9 victories in the next two games for the sweep.
“I’m not so frustrated that Artesia beat us, we know what a strong program they have,” said Ruidoso coach Kellie Smith. “It’s how they turned on themselves and how they got discouraged. They just fell apart and didn’t pick themselves back up.”
McSpadden, Bailey Pearce and Dezarny Boyce were forces at the net for Artesia (8-1), but the Warriors (2-7) weren’t exactly withering under their shots in the first game.
It was almost as if someone flipped a switch in the second game. Artesia had a modest 5-3 lead, but then Alexa Riggs got the serve and the Bulldogs rattled off seven straight points.
Later, McSpadden served for nine straight points to bring things to a close ending on a huge kill by Pearce.
“When you get it into your head and make mistakes, you start hurting as a team,” Smith said. “That’s hard to watch.”
It was pretty much the same story in game three, although the teams traded points in the middle before a 6-0 Bulldog run ended the night.
Artesia may be a 5A school, but Smith didn’t want to use that as an excuse.
“They’re physically strong and mentally strong, but things start chipping away,” Smith said. “Artesia’s done, we have to put that away. What I’m more concerned with is when we go to Hatch and Lovington and Goddard. If we can’t become more mentally strong and support each other, it will be scary.”
Ruidoso is at Hatch this Thursday (Sept. 21) then plays at Lovington Sept. 26.