By Tony A. Archuleta
Trailing 15-12 in the first game against visiting Silver in the District 3-4A opener Tuesday, Sept. 30, at Tiger Gym, Hot Springs appeared to be in position to put up a strong fight against the league’s top team.
But Silver, featuring a pair of big hitters and high-flying servers, quickly took full control of the match, going from leading 17-12 to 22-13 between HSHS timeouts.
In the second game, the Colts took a 4-0 lead, with the Tigers initially answering to make it 4-2 and 11-8 Silver, but that was as close as the Tigers got.
In the third game, the teams played to a 6-all tie before Silver made a four-point run to prompt another Tiger timeout, which did little to alter the course of the match.
Considering the strength of competition, the Tigers had no reason to be dispirited after the 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-16) loss to the Colts – and they weren’t, turning around and beating visiting Magdalena 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-20) on Thursday, Oct. 2, then traveling to Carrizozo on Saturday, Oct. 4, and handling the Lady Grizzlies 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18).
Hot Springs (9-3 overall, 0-1 district) has already exceeded what had to be tempered pre-season expectations considering last year’s 3-18 campaign.
This week, however, expectations for the Tigers are on the rise as district play resumes.
Hot Springs was at Socorro (2-10, 0-1) on Tuesday, Oct. 7, looking to pick up their first win in the newly-formed 3-4A that also includes Cobre and Hatch Valley.
On Thursday, Oct. 9, the Tigers are at Cobre (4-7).
Last season the Tigers went winless against Socorro in the three-team District 3-3A. Cobre and Hot Springs met once last season in a non-district match-up with the Lady Indians winning in straight sets.
The last time the Tigers beat a Socorro team was during the 2012 season in the regular season District 3-3A finale.
If the Tigers can beat the bottom tier teams this week, it then sets up another high-stakes showdown with the Tigers’ main district (and non-district) rival Hatch Valley.
The Bears were competing in the double-A ranks the last few seasons while the Tigers were in 3A. With the new class alignments statewide to start the current school year, both schools are now in the 4A ranks.
Hatch Valley (6-6, 1-1) visits Tiger Gym on Tuesday, Oct. 14 (C-team 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m. and varsity 6 p.m.), in a match that potentially could determine second place in district behind Silver.