The Rim Country Middle School Mavericks' Cinderella ride through the season-ending White Mountain League Volleyball Tournament came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon in Wilson dome.
In the gold medal finale, the Lady Mavericks -- who had earlier pulled off three consecutive tournament upsets -- were whipped 2-0 by the powerful Snowflake Junior High Lobos.
Mav coach Nicole Ward said it was a disappointment to fall short of the WML title, but the team achieved far more than most onlookers expected.
After finishing the regular season with a lowly 2-4 record, the Mavericks drew only a 10th seed into the league tournament.
First round play opened Thursday afternoon in Holbrook with the Mavericks facing a must-win situation.
Had the Rim team not emerged victorious 2-0 over the homestanding Roadrunners, the Mavs would have been eliminated from Saturday's postseason play contested in Wilson dome.
"That would have been embarrassing to not be in the tournament when it was played here," said Lady Mav Brenna Zumbro.
Teammate Shea Hatch agreed, "We would have had to just watch (the tournament) and not play."
With the upset over Holbrook, the Mavericks advanced to a second-round showdown against second-seeded St. Johns.
Based on regular season performances, the Redskins were overwhelming favorites, but it was the Lady Mavs who dominated on their way to a 2-0 victory and a berth in the tournament final four.
Paired against tiny Heber Capps School, the RCMS net crew had all the competition they could deal with before finally salvaging a 2-1 victory.
Following the game, Ward praised the efforts of the Heber team saying, "They were awesome."
The nail-biting triumph propelled RCMS into the title round against the tall and talented Lobos who have long been a Maverick nemesis.
After losing the first game 15-9, the struggling Mavs found themselves trailing 15-2 in the second.
Refusing to throw in the towel, the Rim country crew rallied late to keep hopes alive of forcing a third game. But the last-gasp effort was too-little-too-late for the Mavs who fell 15-13.
Reflecting on a season-long theme that called upon the players to carry their fair share of the Maverick burden, Ward said at game's end that she wanted to thank the "whole team for doing their jobs."
With the conclusion of the WML volleyball season, the Mavericks will turn their attention to the basketball campaign which will tip-off in January.
RCMS will be fielding boys' and girls' teams in both the seventh- and eighth-grade leagues.