FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista volleyball team battled back and forth all night with Cibola and grinded out a win in four sets, holding off the Lady Cougars 26-24, 13-25, 25-21 and 25-19 tonight at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.
“It was stressful,” PV coach Ron Becker said. “I was trying to keep it all together and not get too tense out there.”
The Lady Panthers had to fight for every point they got, and they had to fight even harder to keep Cibola and senior outside hitter Hannah Thompson from raining powerful kills on them.
PV’s defense spent much of the night laying out for digs, trying to get any part of their hand or arm on a kill attempt to keep the ball alive.
“That’s totally what saved the game,” Becker said of the diving digs. “Sam DeWees started a little slow but then made some great plays. Her and Beka (Eaves) both made some amazing, amazing plays that energized the crowd. There were some balls they probably didn’t think they could get themselves, but they threw their bodies out there and made some great saves.”
The two teams went back and forth in the first set with neither team building more than a two-point advantage until the Lady Cougars went on a run to take a 15-10 lead. PV rallied, tying the set at 19. Cibola retook the lead at 23-21, but the Lady Panthers, feeding off their crowd, rallied again to get the 26-24 win.
Any momentum PV had at the end of the first set was lost in the short break before the start of the second.
Cibola took a 10-0 lead to start the second, and built its cushion to 20-5.
“I don’t really know (what happened),” Becker said of the second set. “They had an amazing comeback in the first, and you’d think that momentum would build and they’d ride it into the next game. I have no idea what happened. They just kind of checked out.”
The third set started similarly to the second with Cibola taking a 10-4 lead. This time, the Lady Panthers fought back and took their first lead of the set at 17-16, but not without a bit of controversy. During PV’s rally, junior Meagan Ellis was forced from the game after the officials ruled her shorts, which had a different color waistband then the rest of the team’s, to be out of uniform.
With Ellis relegated to the bench because of the violation, Becker went to eighth-grader Kacee Moore to play on the front row the rest of the night.
The middle schooler proved to be more than adequate for the Lady Panthers, registering a few key blocks and kills in the third and fourth sets.
“I’m really proud of her,” Becker said of Moore. “The mental side of the game for an eighth-grader to go into this level in the district playoffs is really tough. She went in there and made some good plays and had good, solid blocking. I’m really proud of her, especially going into a game she didn’t think she was going to play in at all.”
The fourth set saw the two teams trade points in the early in the set. But as the set wore on, the Lady Panthers built a lead little by little before closing out the victory.
The win moves PV into the tournament’s semifinal. The Lady Panthers will travel to Rio Rancho Thursday to take on the second-seeded Cleveland Lady Storm. PV is 2-1 against the Lady Storm this season.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.