Navajo Prep secures District 1-3A crown
Piedra Vista, Shiprock win district titles
FARMINGTON – The Navajo Prep volleyball team added another line to its impressive résumé after capturing the District 1-3A title.
The Lady Eagles, who were the No. 1 seed in the district tournament, were challenged by No. 4 seed Rehoboth Christian, but in the end Prep earned the win in three sets, 25-20, 27-25, 25-19 at the Eagles Nest this afternoon.
“We knew Rehoboth was going to come out strong,” Prep head coach Rainy Crisp said. “My girls started off slow all three games, and that’s something we’re going to have to fix. Come state, there’s no way we can catch up from a seven-point deficit.”
After falling behind early in the first set, Prep (15-2) got a much-needed boost from Gabrielle Noon at the service line. The junior fired in back-to-back aces to ignite the team to a 10-6 lead that the Lady Eagles never relinquished.
“She’s our most consistent server right now,” Crisp said of Noon. “Her serves are very important, because my front line with Diamond (Jones), LeShauntai (Adams) and Jasmine Coleman, that’s a strong front line, and she (Noon) knows her serves are important.”
Prep’s hitters — Coleman, Adams, Jones and Martinique Larvingo — came up with multiple kills at key moments throughout the match.
“When we started off slow at the beginning of the season, it’s because we graduated our setter (Keona Leano) last year, but Jazmin Benally and Shantel King have been setting very smart for us the last two games. I think we’ve really found our rhythm. They (Benally and King) know their hitters and our kills on our front line are really due to our setters.”
Jones, Adams, Larvingo, Benally, Wood and Coleman were all named to the all-district team.
Coleman was also named the district's most valuable player, and Crisp was named the district's coach of the year.
The district title gives the Lady Eagles an automatic berth into the 3A state tournament, which will be held Thursday through Saturday in Rio Rancho.
Piedra Vista 3, Farmington 1
Piedra Vista itself a favor by dominating the first two sets on Saturday night, because Farmington nearly gave the Lady Panthers more than they could handle in the final two sets.
Piedra Vista (16-5, 9-0) fought off a fired-up Lady Scorpions team in sets three and four Saturday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse to win 3-1 by scores of 25-15, 25-13, 25-27, 25-23 for the District 1-5A championship.
“We weren’t as smooth as we had been and got a little shaky when we got tired, and we've got to stop doing that because the same thing is going to happen at state,” PV coach Ren Becker said.
PV’s ability to serve receive in the opening two sets gave Farmington (12-10, 5-4) fits. But FHS realized its back was against the wall and straightened up after falling down 0-2.
“Confidence has been an issue, but I think it became a desire thing,” Farmington head coach Dan Hickman said. “They wanted to show more than what they had.”
The third set featured nine lead changes before the Lady Scorpions finally put their crosstown rivals away to score a match win.
Farmington would continue to thrive under pressure into the fourth set, when it fell behind 24-20 before scoring three huge points to make it 24-23. But the Lady Scorps never got any closer.
The district title win for PV means it is guaranteed a spot in the state tournament, something Becker was relieved about.
“I really like the comfort level of knowing we’re in no matter what,” he said. “I have a feeling we’re going to be in the sixth spot with Centennial and Moriarty, but you never know how that stuff turns out.”
Shiprock 3, Wingate 2
Shiprock couldn’t find a way to beat Wingate during the district schedule, but when they needed to most, the Lady Chieftains came through with a win in five sets to claim the District 1-4A title Saturday night in Fort Wingate.
“Basically, the girls were working as a team and feeding off of each other,” Shiprock head coach Teri Atcitty said.
Individual set scores were not available, but Atcitty said the Lady Chieftains (17-6) won the first set fairly easily, dropped a close second set to Wingate (20-4), won a close third set, narrowly fell in the fourth, then secured the win 15-8 in the fifth set.
Atcitty said setter Shelbie Little played “awesome,” and hitters Kylie McKinley, Chamika Begaye and Tanisha Begay all played well.
Shiprock now waits to learn its seed in the state tournament, which will be held Thursday through Saturday in Rio Rancho. The tournament bracket will be released this afternoon.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.