Shiprock sweeps FHS to remain unbeaten

Lady Chiefs own first and third sets, down Farmington

Jake Newby

FARMINGTON — The Shiprock volleyball team is in an early-season groove.

Shiprock's Kylie McKinley returns the ball during a game against Farmington on Thursday at Scorpion Gym in Farmington.

After sweeping Farmington tonight at Scorpion Gym, the Lady Chieftains have defeated all four Class 5A teams they have faced on their nondistrict schedule.

Shiprock (4-0) won 25-13, 26-24, 25-12 to pull off a second straight sweep. The team also shut out Kirtland Central last Thursday.

Playing as one is far and away Shiprock coach Teri Atcitty's No. 1 priority every time her team takes the court. Just like against KC, she felt like the teamwork was there from the initial serve until the last.

"Working together, talking, knowing where their positions are, they did all that tonight," Atcitty said. "Everything we've been working on in practice, they keep doing."

Much like they were on Tuesday night when Piedra Vista ousted them in straight sets, the Lady Scorpions (1-3) appeared timid to start. They looked like they were waiting for the next girl to hit the ball and put some force behind kill attempts. But the hosts picked it up in the second set.

Farmington was more aggressive in the second set, and though the Lady Scorps were sometimes too aggressive for their own good, over-hitting balls out of bounds at times, they hung with Shiprock until the end.

The second set featured six lead changes. Farmington's last lead came when the team held a 21-19 advantage over the visitors, as Shiprock roared back and reeled off five straight points after that.

But the pendulum kept swinging in that second set. The Lady Scorps regained the momentum with three straight points to tie the game at 24, but back-to-back unforced errors did them in. Still, first-year coach Alaina Rowland was proud of the way her team competed in the second set against last year's District 1-4A champions.

"I told them after that set that they did awesome," Rowland said. "We were down, and they fought back to keep them at set point for three or four points. I thought it was phenomenal."

Shiprock closed the Lady Scorps out rather easily, keyed by a 14-3 run in the middle of the third set.

Farmington's Bergen Campbell tips a shot during Thursday's match again Shiprock at Scorpion Gym.

Rowland said the timidness of her team as a whole has been an unfortunate trend, one she's still trying to get to the bottom of.

"I don't know if they're still trying to get used to me, or they're expecting me to rip their heads off and go crazy or what," she said. "In practice, we're not the same team. We're doing things right in practice. And it needs to be reversed."

Monica Briones led the Lady Scorps in assists with 12 and Bergen Campbell was tops on the team in kills with five.

Both teams will be getting familiar with the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse floor on Friday and Saturday as competitors in the Piedra Vista Invitational. Atcitty said she hopes to see more of the same in the tournament.

"I'm just telling them to each know where their positions are and to be there," Atcitty said. "They've been doing that well so far."

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.