Lady Panthers sweep Aztec in district opener

Karl Schneider
Piedra Vista's Autumn Begay spikes the ball against Aztec on Tuesday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista volleyball team started a little slow, but once the Lady Panthers gained a little momentum, they cruised past rival Aztec 25-21, 25-12, 25-14 Tuesday night at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.

The first set started with the two teams going back and forth, with neither side being able to gain much of an advantage.

“They did start out very sluggish and very flat, and had no intensity,” PV head coach Ron Becker said of his team in the first set. “We need to play with intensity all the time.”

Aztec (3-7, 0-1 District 1-5A) built an 18-14 lead in the first, but PV (8-4, 1-0) got its offense going to tie the set at 18 and force the Lady Tigers to call time out.

Rather than slowing PV down, the break in action seemed to ignite the Lady Panthers, who outscored Aztec 7-3 down the stretch to get the win.

The Lady Panthers carried the momentum over to the second and third sets to secure wins.

The Piedra Vista volleyball team celebrates after scoring a point against Aztec on Tuesday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

“They just sucked the momentum out of us,” Aztec head coach Anna Strauss said. “We’d get something going, and they’d just suck it out of us.”

During the second and third sets, Aztec struggled to receive PV’s serves, never allowing the offense to get into a rhythm.

“I pretty much told them to go back and not worry about missing the ball,” Becker said of PV’s performance at the service line. “As soon as you go back and think about missing it, you end up missing it. I wanted them to go out there and be aggressive. We don’t want to give easy serves because that’s when teams can make good passes. If we can serve tough, it really helps keep them off balance.”

Aztec will play at Gallup (2-7, 0-1) on Thursday.

PV was originally scheduled to host crosstown rival Farmington (6-4) on Thursday, but the game was moved to Scorpion Gym so the Lady Scorps could play a home game during their homecoming week.

“I want them to go in there and stay really focused,” Becker said. “They’ll have a bigger crowd, and that’s fine because I want the girls to learn how to play in that kind of environment.”

Kirtland Central 3, Zuni 1

Kirtland Central (5-3, 1-0 District 1-4A) started its district schedule will with a win, topping Zuni (2-8, 0-1) 25-14, 20-25, 25-12, 25-21 at Bronco Arena Tuesday night.

KC head coach Nadia Watson said the scores were not indicative of how well the Lady Broncos played, saying she couldn’t complain and was happy with the team’s performance.

“We got a lot of playing time for girls who will need to step up when they’re put in the game,” Watson said. “A lot of my girls are struggling on the mental side of things, but they’ll be all right. They told me they’re ready for district (play). They’re hungry and ready to go.”

Watson said she thinks the team’s struggles stem from a lack of confidence and she wants to see the team become more consistent during district play.

“I know they can bring it, but their confidence isn’t there right now,” Watson said.

Watson said hitters Krystal Sheka and Dominique McGilbert both played well and did a good job finishing their kill attempts.

KC will play at Thoreau (2-7) on Thursday.

Wingate 3, Bloomfield 1

Bloomfield gave the defending district champion all it could handle, but it wasn’t quite enough as Wingate held off the Lady Bobcats 16-25, 25-17, 29-27, 25-11 Thursday night at Bobcat Gym in Bloomfield.

“I thought the girls played very well overall. We just need to learn how to close it out,” Bloomfield head coach Rae Collins said. "In game three, we had game point three times. But that’s one of the things we’re learning to overcome.”

Collins said the Lady Bobcats (4-5, 0-1) did a great job battling Wingate (10-1, 1-0), saying the players communicated well and picked each other up throughout the night.

“I think it’s a good confidence boost,” Collins said. “It lets them know they are capable of playing at that level against a team that is the defending district champions.”

Bloomfield will be back in action Thursday, travelling to Shiprock to take on the Lady Chieftains (6-3).

Navajo Prep 3, Tohatchi 0

Navajo Prep picked up a win in its district opener, sweeping Tohatchi 25-16, 29-27, 25-18 Tuesday night at the Eagles Nest in Farmington.

“We really wanted to come out strong this game,” Prep head coach Rainiy Crisp said. “Our main focus was to not hurt ourselves. I think we’ve been doing that the last few games.”

Crisp said the Lady Eagles played well as a team, but they made too many mistakes throughout the night.

Crisp said Navajo Prep (7-0, 1-0 District 1-3A) struggled to put Tohatchi (9-2, 0-1) away, struggling with its serves to allow the Lady Cougars to hang around during the match.

“I think it was just more that the girls were trying to place their serves a little more,” Crisp said. “We definitely need to clean that up before the Santa Fe Tournament this weekend.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648 and kschneider@daily-times.com. Follow him @karltschneider on Twitter.