Five girls named to All-State volleyball teams

Karl Schneider
Navajo Prep's Jasmine Coleman spikes the ball past Santa Fe Prep's Daisy Cunningham during a quarterfinal match of the 3A state tournament on Nov. 13 at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

FARMINGTON – Navajo Prep’s Jasmine Coleman has been named to the 3A first-team All-State volleyball team for the second straight year.

Coleman was one of five San Juan County volleyball players to earn All-State honors. Teammates LaShauntai Adams, Jazmin Benally and Diamond Jones were named second team, and Piedra Vista senior Autumn Begay was named second team in 5A.

Adams and Jones were second-team All-State selections last season, as well.

Coleman, Benally, Adams and Begay are seniors, while Jones is a junior.

Throughout the season, Prep head coach Rainy Crisp praised Benally’s for her play and how she filled the void at setter left when 2014 first team All-State selection Keona Leano graduated.

“I’m very happy that other teams and coaches recognized how good of a player she is,” Crisp said of Benally. “She’s one who leads by example. She’s very quiet, but her work ethic goes over and beyond what’s expected, and all the underclassmen really looked up to her and followed her this year.”

Behind the play of Adams, Benally, Coleman and Jones, the Lady Eagles finished the 2015 season 16-3 and earned the No. 2 seed in the 3A state volleyball tournament. The Lady Eagles lost to Eunice in the state semifinals.

“This is the first year we really had this much of a dynamic group — each of these girls were able to play different positions," Crisp said. It was a great year for us because their leadership and knowledge of the game really led the whole team. It’s going to be tough for us next year with them graduating, but what they’ve done for our program is going to leave some big shoes for the rest of the girls to fill.”

Along with All-State honors, Coleman was named the District 1-3A Player of the Year and landed on the North roster for the 3A/4A North/South All-Star Game.

“It’s a big honor for her, especially going up against other girls from 3A and 4A schools. To be recognized is a huge honor for her,” Crisp said of Coleman. “She has been fighting to that since her freshman year, and I think it will be a big boost for her confidence. She’s very excited, and I know she’s going to do a great job when she’s there.”

Begay earned her spot as an all-state player after being one of the most consistent players in the state.

Every tournament the Lady Panthers went to during the season, Begay came home with all-tourney honors, making her all-state selection a fitting accomplishment.

Piedra Vista's Autumn Begay gets a kill against Farmington on Nov. 7 at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

Begay was also named the District 1-5A Player of the Year and will play for the North team in the 5A/6A North/South All-Star Game on July 25.

“I think it’s a big compliment to her and the great season she had — that’s kind of the icing on the cake for her,” PV head coach Ron Becker said of Begay making the North/South game. “For the North/South game, coaches from all over the state vote for that, and it says a lot about her skill with other coaches nominated and voted for her. That’s a huge compliment for her.”

As one of only four seniors on PV’s roster this season, the leadership and experience Begay brought to the Lady Panthers was maybe her biggest asset.

Becker said when Begay joined the varsity squad as a sophomore, it was a challenge to get her to talk in practice. But Begay went from being silent as a sophomore to guiding the younger Lady Panthers on the ins and outs of the game during her senior season.

“I think she was a really good mentor for the girls,” Becker said. “(Freshman) Courtney (Moore) really looked up to Autumn, and they became really good friends this season. Courtney says it all the time that she wants to be like Autumn. She (Begay) was really good at helping the younger girls, and when you have a girl saying she wants to be like Autumn, I think that’s really special.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.