RUIDOSO – Nothing could quite prepare Ruidoso volleyball coach Kellie Smith for the collapse her team experienced in game the of the Warriors’ match against Moriarty, Oct. 17.
After dropping the first frame and losing 25-23 in the second, Moriarty stormed over Ruidoso in game three to win 25-9 and complete the sweep.
While Smith had seen her team struggle before, it was still hard for her to figure out.
“I wish I had the answer to that, because it’s happened several times,” Smith said. “But when you can play a team that’s hitting like that and you can block it and fall just two points short, you can’t come back the next game and fall.”
Ruidoso (2-15, 0-3 District 4-4A) wasn’t exactly overwhelmed in the first game, but did find the going rough in a 25-12 loss. Things didn’t look much better when the Pintos (13-4, 2-1) started game two with four straight service points.
But then the Warriors started to get their act together, largely negating strong hitting from Malia Howe with good defense and blocking.
Eventually, the Moriarty lead was down to four points, and with the Pintos at game point serve, a tip kill by Gracie Hooker gave Ruidoso the serve.
A net violation against Howe put the Warriors within a point before Moriarty finally came up with the victory.
While it was a loss, it was one that saw Ruidoso come from far back, and could have been a springboard to further success in the next game.
But that wasn’t to be, as the Pintos took the first eight points of the frame and cruised from there.
“It’s almost like they have the mentality that they tried that hard, and didn’t win, and the air went out of the tires,” Smith said. “I’ve talked to them about that, to play with heart. They got excited and played like that, but then they fell short. It took the wind out of their sails.”
Now halfway through the district season, the Warriors are still looking for their first 4-4A victory, with Portales coming into town on Oct. 21 for Ruidoso’s final home match of the season.
After that, it’s on to the district tournament. Unless the Warriors can come up with at least two wins, they’ll start the tourney on the road.
“They have acknowledged that they have to play with heart, and only they can decide to do that,” Smith said. “They’ve said it’s in their heads. They admit there’s a problem, that’s the first step. Now we have to get to the second and third step.”