KC starts strong, comes up short at MV Invite

Lady Panthers earn second-place finish in Rio Rancho

Karl Schneider and Jake Newby, Farmington Daily Times
  • Piedra Vista placed second at the Rio Rancho Invite.
  • Navajo Prep was swept by Monument Valley and Tuba City during the Monument Valley Invite.
  • Kirtland Central lost twice at Monument Valley, and is now 0-7 for the season.

FARMINGTON — The Kirtland Central volleyball team had another strong tournament showing, earning a spot in the championship bracket at the Monument Valley Invitational this weekend in Keyanta, Ariz.

Volleyball

But as has been the case for the Lady Broncos at other tournaments this season, they faltered late in the action, losing to Snowflake, Ariz., (10-3) and Monticello, Utah, (19-3-1) in bracket play.

“Again, we had really good pool play and ended up in the Red Bracket, which is their top bracket,” KC coach Nadia Watson said. “Then, in both games against Snowflake and Monticello, we started out slow in the first set, won the second set and lost the third.”

In bracket play at the tournament, teams played a best-of-three match instead of the traditional best of five. KC lost to Monticello 25-4, 19-25 and 17-15. Set scores for the match against Snowflake were not available.

Watson said the Lady Broncos (0-7) played well across the board, and despite not having a win on the season heading into play in District 1-5A on Tuesday at Aztec (4-6), she believes the team is in a great position to compete for the district title.

“I’m not sure if the girls understand how difficult of a schedule we’ve had. We’re playing really tough teams, and the teams we’re losing to are the top three or four teams at these tournaments,” she said. “I think the girls’ confidence is dwindling at the moment, but they just need to push through and grind it out at the end of games. If we can do that, we’ll be able to get some upsets in district and play for the title.”

Monument Valley, Ariz., 2, Navajo Prep 0

Tuba City, Ariz., 2, Navajo Prep 0

Navajo Prep went 5-5 in pool play on Friday, which was good enough to earn the Lady Eagles a spot in the red bracket.

As the most competitive bracket in the tournament, the Red Bracket pitted Prep (4-5) against Monument Valley, Ariz., and then Tuba City, Ariz. The Lady Eagles came out on the losing end against both schools.

Prep first fell 2-0 to Monument Valley by set scores of 25-14, 25-12 in the double-elimination, best-of-three match format. Tuba City also swept the Lady Eagles 2-0 in the match by scores of 25-14, 25-20.

Coach Rainy Crisp called the tourney a good learning experience for her team.

“It was really good to play against different competition; I think Arizona’s style of volleyball is different from New Mexico’s,” Crisp said.

The coach also said it was evident that the players from the Arizona teams have played summer ball and possibly even club ball.

Prep visits Tohatchi on Thursday before opening its District 1-4A schedule against Shiprock on Oct. 4. Crisp hopes the challenging competition over the weekend makes the Lady Eagles a better team down the stretch run.

“We want to continue to improve and get better, and incorporate some of what we saw today into Lady Eagle volleyball,” Crisp said. “We’re tweaking the little things to get us better and help us come together as a team.”

Shiprock competed at the MV Invite, but head coach Teri Atcitty could not be reached for comment.

St. Pius X 3, Piedra Vista 0

The Piedra Vista volleyball team placed second at the Rio Rancho Invitational this weekend, falling to 5A St. Pius X in three sets 28-26, 25-20 and 25-16 in the championship match.

“I would have to say that right now St. Pius is the strongest team in the state, including 6A. We lost to a really good team,” PV coach Ron Becker said. “I’d say our passing and defense was the biggest thing that hurt us. St. Pius’ hitters really stepped up and were hitting really well, and we couldn’t get the digs out.”

To reach the tournament’s final, the Lady Panthers (9-1) won their pool on Friday, then beat fellow District 1-6A program Cleveland (5-6) in four sets in the semifinal.

“I was really happy to get that win,” PV coach Ron Becker said of the match against Cleveland. “I told the girls it was the start to the district, so it was good to get that win over them.”

Elli Wright and Courtney Moore were named to the all-tournament team.

PV will be off until Friday when the Lady Panthers host Cibola (7-3) for the district opener.

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 505-564-4577.