AZTEC — It took the Aztec volleyball team a set and a half to really click tonight, but once it did, visiting Miyamura didn't stand a chance.
The Lady Tigers (15-6) defended home court at Lillywhite Gum in Aztec by winning a District 1-5A semifinal match 25-20, 25-11, 25-16. The Lady Tigers now move on to host Farmington (11-10) on Saturday with the district crown on the line.
The first set of tonight's match saw the Lady Patriots (8-14) take two leads and tie it five times. Coach Anna Strauss said she didn't think Aztec played poorly in the first set — her players were just a little flat footed.
"We started moving our feet and passing better after the first set," Strauss said. "'They served us tough that first set, and we were kind of flat passing. I think after that, we got things figured out."
Miyamura made it 18-18 at one point in the opening set and could have made the final score even closer had the Lady Patriots not misserved a handful of balls down the stretch.
The improved passing in the second set helped the Lady Tigers go on an 18-4 run en route to the 25-11 victory. Reigan Weaver, at 6-foot-2, was a nightmare for the Lady Pats to try and get past in the second set, blocking everything in her vicinity. On one series alone, she blocked three balls. Weaver also had five kills on the night.
Strauss thought the blocking in general was better tonightthan it's been in recent contests.
"We worked a lot on blocking this week," she said. "We worked on playing defense a lot. I was proud of our net."
After pulling ahead 2-0, Aztec hopped out to a 14-3 start in the final set and never looked back.
Senior Vanessa Chavez managed five stuff blocks and put down six kills for the hosts. Savannah McCarthy and Taley Ferrari contributed 19 combined kills in the winning effort.
The Lady Tigers have dropped just one set to Miyamura over three matches played this season. The sweep means Aztec remains undefeated against District 1-5A competitors.
Aztec has defeated Farmington twice this season, by finals of 3-1 and 3-2. If the Lady Tigers hope to trump the Lady Scorpions for a third time in as many tries, they'll have to keep playing hard on defense, Strauss said.
"We're going to have to serve tough and put up a big block," Strauss said. "We'll have to do all the little things right because Farmington's a really good team."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.