FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista, Farmington, Aztec and Kirtland Central are set to begin their district volleyball schedules on Tuesday.
No. 2 Piedra Vista is looking to repeat as District 1-4A champion, but expect a stern test from No. 3 Farmington in vying for the title, while No. 10 Aztec and No. 18 Kirtland will be looking for important victories as they try to qualify for the state tournament.
"I would say this is the strongest district we've had since I've been coaching," said PV head coach Ron Becker.
The Lady Panthers have spent a large portion of the season as the top ranked squad in 4A and Becker hopes his teams play will continue improving throughout the district season.
"I'm kind of excited to finally get district going, and I'm really happy with how we've played," he said.
Piedra Vista matched up with FHS twice already this season, beating the Lady Scorpions in the final of the PV Invite and the Tournament of Champions in Santa Fe.
Becker is expecting FHS to come out even stronger though in the two district matches against his team.
"I expect Farmington to come back even better. We just need to play one game at a time," he said. "The biggest thing is to make sure we take our play."
FHS head coach Dan Hickman thinks his team learned from the early season losses to PV and said the Lady Scorps are more determined than ever to find a way to beat the Lady Panthers.
"We really want the district, we haven't won it since 1996," Hickman said. "I feel like we can go hitter for hitter and setter for setter with PV."
Hickman is also expecting the tough district schedule to prepare FHS for a deep run in the state tournament.
"We gotta hit the ground running. Our schedule has pushed us to a better level," he said. "You can't overlook anybody. You can't anyone for granted."
Aztec and Kirtland also had solid starts to the year during the non-district schedule with the Lady Tigers going 9-3 and KCHS going 7-4.
With four team having good years, Becker hopes the state tournament selection committee will reward the district when the bracket comes out.
"I feel like this year looking at the teams, our district deserves to have three teams go," he said.
KCHS head coach Brian Joe is expecting his team give the top teams a fight as they try to find a way into the playoffs.
"As long as we keep our heads on and focus on the passes then we'll be tough to beat," Joe said. "We're going to have to play tough and can't go into each game thinking we'll lose. We have to go in and fight. I think we'll get some wins but it won't be easy."
Farmington opens with Aztec, while PV plays Kirtland on Tuesday.
Aztec head coach Anna Strauss was unavailable for comment by press time