KIRTLAND — An 0-8 start to the season seems like a long time ago for the Kirtland Central volleyball team after the Lady Broncos earned their third straight win 25-12, 25-13, 22-25 and 25-18 over Bloomfield tonight.
KC coach Nadia Watson said the key to the team’s turnaround seems to be a simple change in its rotation that has allowed the Lady Broncos to find more of a rhythm on the court.
“They play better when they’re touching the ball all the way around (the rotation) instead of switching them in and out,” Watson said. “At the beginning of the season, we were switching them in and out, and it’s tough to get going that way.”
The Lady Broncos (3-8, 3-1 District 1-5A) couldn’t do much wrong in the first two sets, jumping out to big leads early in the sets and cruising to victories.
Even though the scores were one sided in the first two sets, Bloomfield coach Sunni Baird said she thought the Lady Bobcats (6-7, 2-2) were playing well. They just couldn’t seem to string any points together, she said.
“It was one of those games where it felt like it was going well, then you look at the scoreboard and say, ‘What the heck?’” Baird said. “But I was happy with the girls. They had a good attitude and were working really hard. We just need to be more aggressive.”
Bloomfield picked things up in the third set, jumping to a 6-1 lead before holding off a late rally from KC.
KC took control of the fourth set with a 15-11 lead. But a quick run by the Lady Bobcats brought the set even at 16. Sensing the set could slip away, the Lady Broncos refocused and closed the set on a 9-2 run for the win.
The Lady Broncos found production on the front row throughout the night. Gabrianna White-David, TJ Nez and Nia Nelson all took advantage of the attention Bloomfield paid to standout freshman Talia Ockerman and came up with big kills at key moments in the match.
“We’re hard to stop when everyone is one. We move the girls around a lot, and they can hit from the outside or the middle,” Watson said. “When we’re on, we’re tough to stop because the girls distribute the ball really well, and (opposing teams) don’t know where to focus. Talia does so much in the middle that it creates a lot of stuff on the outside for us to hit.”
Bloomfield will host Colorado’s Pagosa Springs (11-2) in a nondistrict match on Saturday.
The Lady Broncos, who now sit alone in second place in the district, will play at Gallup (6-7, 0-4) on Tuesday.
Aztec 3, Gallup 0
The Aztec volleyball team remained atop the District 1-5A standings with a 25-23, 25-21 and 25-20 sweep of Gallup (6-7, 0-4) tonight at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.
“It’s our homecoming week, and that has a lot of things to be distracted by, but the girls have been working hard and stayed focused,” Aztec coach Anna Strauss said. “The girls are starting to get it together, and their chemistry is right. It was a good way to end our homecoming week.”
Strauss said the Lady Tigers (8-6, 4-0) had good production up and down the lineup.
Taley Ferrari led the Lady Tigers with 11 kills. Vanessa Chavez added seven kills and four stuff blocks, and Karly Phillips dished out 29 assists.
Aztec will host Miyamura (6-8, 1-3) on Tuesday.
Farmington 3, Miyamura 1
A hiccup late in the first set cost the Farmington volleyball team, but the mishap was quickly overcome, and the Lady Scorps rolled to victory over Miyamura 23-25, 25-22, 25-17 and 25-17 tonight in Gallup.
“The first set we had a lead of six or seven, but toward the end, we had some silly mistakes with hitting and passing errors,” Farmington coach Alana Rowland said. “We started second down 5-0, then started communicating really well and reading their hitters well. From the middle of the second set to the end of fourth, we had control and never lost the lead again.”
Through the first four matches of district play, the Lady Scorps have been shaky. But Rowland said that after having individual meetings with her players this week, the team looks to be on the rise.
“I think some of the things we talked about, you could see them being applied on the court tonight,” she said. “I see glimpses of really good things, and it’s there, it’s just a matter of the girls trusting each other. If we can get a couple of wins, I think the girls will gain some confidence and start playing really well.”
Farmington will play at Bloomfield (6-7, 2-2) on Tuesday.
Navajo Prep 3, Thoreau 0
The Navajo Prep volleyball team had little trouble against Thoreau, sweeping the Lady Hawks 25-19, 25-13 and 25-14 tonight in Thoreau.
Prep coach Rainy Crisp said the Lady Eagles (7-5, 2-0 District 1-4A) controlled most of the match, other than a couple of slow starts in the first and third sets.
Crisp said that during the night, Prep would build a lead, only to let up and allow the Lady Hawks (7-7, 0-2) to go on a quick run to stay in the set.
"We need to do a better job at closing out a game and not giving teams momentum going into the next game," Crisp said in a text message.
Prep will host Wingate (1-9, 1-0) on Thursday.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.