Aztec secures regular season district title

Karl Schneider, kschneider@daily-times.com

AZTEC — The Aztec volleyball team locked up the District 1-5A regular season title and the No. 1 seed for the district tournament with a win over Farmington in five sets tonight at Lillywhite Gym.

Aztec's Breanna Watkins dives for the ball during a game against Farmington on Thursday at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

“I am extremely proud of how hard they’ve worked and the integrity they’ve shown to get where we are,” Aztec coach Anna Strauss said. “We had such a turnaround from where we were last year. We were 0-8, and now we’re 8-0. That says a lot about their hard work, their maturity and their drive.”

The match went back and forth all night.

After Aztec (12-6, 8-0 District 1-5A) cruised to a 25-16 win the first set, Farmington (8-10, 5-3) answered with a 25-23 win in the second. In the third set, the Lady Tigers slipped by with a 25-21 victory, only to lose the fourth set 17-25 to set up a key fifth set that Aztec won 15-11.

“It was just a great game. Both teams played extremely well, and I expected that from Farmington today,” Strauss said.

In the fifth set, Aztec got a spark from senior Vanessa Chavez, who seemed to make every key play at the net for the Lady Tigers.

Aztec's Vanessa Chavez blocks the ball  against Farmington on Thursday at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

“She’s a quiet leader. She’s not going to say anything, but she leads the girls with her play,” Strauss said of Chavez, who finished the night with 16 kills and 6 stuff blocks.

But it wasn’t all Chavez at the net for Aztec. The Lady Tigers had three other players join Chavez with double-digit kills with Taley Ferrari finishing with 14 and Savannah McCarthy and Reigan Weaver adding 13 each.

“To have four girls in double figures for kills — that’s awesome,” Strauss said.

The Lady Tigers led almost the entire first set, in part to near-perfect play at the net from junior Taley Ferarri.

Farmington controlled the early stages of the second set, surrendering the lead for the first time when Aztec pulled ahead 15-14. The Lady Tigers build a 20-17 advantage, but Farmington wouldn't go away and rallied for the win.

“I’m very proud of them,” Farmington coach Alana Rowland said. “I don’t think the girls have really soaked in how well they played. I know the game didn’t have the flow or the chemistry we’ve had the last couple games, but it was a great match. There were times when they could have tanked and given up, but they didn’t.”

Farmington's Monica Briones pass the ball during against Aztec on Thursday at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

The two sides traded points early in the third set until Aztec went on a 5-0 run to take a 10-6 lead that the Lady Tigers never relinquished on the way to the win.

The Lady Scorps dominated the fourth set, taking an 8-3 lead and never letting Aztec within five points the rest of the way to force the decisive fifth set.

Aztec will travel to Gallup on Tuesday to play the Lady Bengals (6-9, 0-6).

 Farmington will host Miyamura (6-11, 1-6) on Tuesday.

Kirtland Central 3, Miyamura 0

The Kirtland Central volleyball team rebounded from Tuesday's loss to Farmington with a 25-22, 25-20 and 25-21 sweep of Miyamura tonight in Gallup.

“They were a totally different team than they were a couple days ago against Farmington, and it’s really good to see them bounce back,” KC coach Nadia Watson said. “Miyamura is a really tough team, and I we knew it was going to be a really tough match coming down to Gallup, but the girls really pulled through.”

Watson said Bioncee Yazzie played well in the win with a strong all-around performance.

KC will play at Bloomfield (7-10, 3-4) on Tuesday.

Navajo Prep 3, Thoreau 0

The Navajo Prep volleyball team needed a good performance against Thoreau after suffering its first loss in District 1-4A on Tuesday. And the Lady Eagles did exactly that, sweeping the Lady Hawks 25-8, 25-21 and 25-14 tonight in Thoreau.

“This was huge for us. We had to come back after Tuesday’s game,” Prep coach Rainy Crisp said. “We didn’t mention that (loss) too much because we wanted to put it in the past. It was great for the girls to put that behind them and move forward.”

Crisp said the biggest difference for the Lady Eagles (9-6, 4-1 District 1-4A) over Thoreau (8-10, 0-5) in the first set was their serving, particularly from Gabrielle Noon, who served for 14 points in the set.

To go with her dominant serving, Noon recorded 17 digs to lead the Lady Eagles’ defense.

Tiana Sandoval dished out 23 assists, and Martinique Larvingo recorded 16 kills.

Prep will close out the regular season on Thursday, playing at Wingate (3-13, 2-2).

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