Jaylin Gonzales lets out a big roar during Socorro’s match against Magdalena.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

Socorro and Magdalena’s season-opening matchup on Aug. 22 was everything it was promised to be as the Lady Warriors avenged last year’s 3-2 with a 3-2 volleyball payback win.

The Lady Warriors jumped out to a 1-0 advantage with a 25-18 first-set victory but lost their edge when the Steers came roaring back with a 25-21 win.

“They got they got the first game out of the way. I think we beat ourselves in the second set,” Socorro coach Jaden Jones said. “Mental toughness — that’s what I’ve been drilling in practice. You have got to be mentally tough. We only lose on our own mistakes.”

Magdalena surged to a 2-1 advantage with a 25-18 third-set win, but the Steers’ performance dropped off from there as coach Micheon Shellhorn’s charges also seemed to drop their focus, and Socorro’s front line took advantage.

Socorro’s 25-16 win in the fourth set was the largest margin of victory, but Magdelena wasn’t done, and Socorro’s 15-13 win in the fifth and deciding set only made both teams hungry for more.

Fans won’t have to wait very long for the rematch, which will happen in Socorro on Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. Interestingly enough, a third match is scheduled in tournament play the following Friday.

What many had expected to be a front-line assault with lots of hammering was a well-balanced mix of finesse points and aggression at the net for Socorro.

“I’ve been trying to get the girls to play smart. I want you to hit those holes if there’s a blocker there. There are holes everywhere. Look at the court, see the court, see where you’re at, and play off of that. Don’t just power it every time. You’re not going to win like that. You’ve got to play smart and do what you got to do,” Jones said.

Senior Tamra Fowler led the way on offense with 17 kills (43.6), and she had lots of support from Davaeh Murrietta (9), Jaylin Gonzales (6), and Lila Azar, who combined for 38 team kills.

Those are decent numbers that will be helped by a more consistent attack percentage that must rise above 29.5 percent.

Kayana Acosta’s seven aces led the way in the serving department, while Azar had four and Kaedyn Gonsalez had three. Acosta also led the team with 32 assists.

What’s up next for the Lady Warriors under Jones’ guidance?

“We have got to get talking and communicating. We didn’t miss as many services as I thought. I’m hoping that I can give the girls their best opportunity. I want to get them in the right mindset to help them be their best selves. I’m expecting team players. 110-percent effort and communication, that’s all I want.”

Magdalena bounced back with a win the following night with a 3-0 sweep of Corona/Vaughn.

The Steers’ varsity roster includes Hanna Guerro, Kaydence Latasa-Autrey, Kambree Montoya, Monique Baca, Vanessa Martinez, Anissa Muno-Paez, Gianna Apachito, Aliza Apache, Nikole Torre, Summer Anderson, Winona Apachito, Elia Cleveland, Oliviah Clark, Jorianne Mirabal and Lilliana Vega.