Piedra Vista falls to St. Pius X in Panther Classic volleyball final

Jake Newby The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The host Piedra Vista volleyball team had a great run in the 2015 Panther Classic tournament held at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse this weekend, but that run came to an end Saturday in the final against St. Pius X.

The opening set was a close one, but the Sartans pulled away from Piedra Vista thereafter, winning in straight sets by scores of 25-23, 25-14 and 25-13.

Senior Autumn Begay got PV back into it in the first set after St. Pius controlled the pace for much of the game. Begay's two key kills lifted PV to a 22-21 lead, its first since going up 1-0.

The Lady Panthers increased their lead to 23-21, but then the momentum shifted to St. Pius under unique circumstances.

A kill attempt by the Sartans was called out of bounds by one of the line judges, which gave PV a comfortable 24-21 lead and put the Lady Panthers within one point of the win. However, PV senior Alex Johnson approached the line judge and admitted the ball grazed her hand. Johnson's act of sportsmanship resulted in a point reversal and the Lady Panthers would not score again the rest of the set.

PV coach Ron Becker commended Johnson for her action, but said he was disappointed his team couldn't close the Lady Sartans out anyway.

"It was great sportsmanship by Alex, but we had four more points to try and get the win, and we couldn't close it out," Becker said.

St. Pius cruised through the rest of the match.

In the second set, the Lady Sartans took an early 6-1 lead and never looked back, registering a 25-14 win.

With their backs against the wall, the Lady Panthers came out flat in the third game as St. Pius jumped to a 15-4 advantage. The Lady Sartans wound up completing the sweep by winning 25-13 and claiming the Panther Classic championship trophy.

Becker said he thought the blown lead and loss in the first set let the air out of his team the rest of the match.

"We talked about being mentally tough this whole tournament and just keeping their heads in it no matter what," Becker said. "Kind of after they lost the first set, I don't know, they just didn't feel like they could do it. It just kind of went downhill from there."

Now 3-1 on the season, PV will welcome Durango Colo., into its gym for a 6:30 p.m. match Tuesday.

Lady Broncos lose

The Monument Valley, Ariz., volleyball team was too much for Kirtland Central to handle in the third-place game of Saturday's Panther Classic tournament at Piedra Vista High School.

The Mustangs of Kayenta, Ariz., won in straight sets, 25-17, 25-16 and 25-20.

The Lady Broncos fell in straight sets to St. Pius X on Friday to land in Saturday's third-place matchup. Much like Friday, Kirtland couldn't muster much momentum in the match.

"(Monument Valley) is a good team. We don't play teams of this caliber very often, so the competition is good for our team," KC coach Nadia Watson said. "My girls have just had a constant struggle building momentum. This match was good for us, though."

The Lady Broncos consistently trailed by six to eight points in each of the first two sets, but gave the Mustangs a fight in the third. Kirtland even held a 16-15 lead before letting it slip away.

"It comes down to grinding things out and showing better mental toughness," Watson said. "I think the last set we had four sophomores, one junior and one senior out there. We're young, and we're just trying to build something, so for now it comes down to mental toughness."

Shiprock sweeps Bloomfield

The Lady Chieftains put forth a dominant effort Saturday afternoon at Piedra Vista High School, claiming seventh place in the Panther Classic by besting Bloomfield in straight sets, 25-19, 25-11 and 25-13.

Tanisha Begay and Alyssa Harvey worked well together for Shiprock, according to head coach Teri Atcitty, and they led the Lady Chieftains to the convincing win.

"We were without our setter, Shelbie Little, so we mixed our lineups up, and our girls worked well with the change today," Atcitty said. "Tanisha and Alyssa played well. I was pleased with the girls today."

Bloomfield coach Rae Collins said her team didn't show up to play.

"We were out of sync with each other," Collins said. "You could see it on the court."

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and Follow him @JakeNewby07 on Twitter.