FARMINGTON — The Navajo Prep volleyball team got past Thoreau tonight in a District 1-4A semifinal match, and now the Lady Eagles will try to exorcise their demons against Shiprock in the final.
The Lady Hawks (9-12) posed no threat to Prep (11-8) at the Eagles Nest in Farmington, where the hosts cruised to a sweep, winning 25-18, 25-13, 25-13.
Now staring Prep in the face in the district final is a fourth match this year with Shiprock, a school that shook the Lady Eagles' confidence on Saturday by beating them 3-0, according to Prep coach Rainy Crisp.
Crisp said her team also suffered a mental breakdown during a 3-2 loss to the Lady Chieftains on Oct. 18, so it was good to see her players recover from the most recent loss to Shiprock in time for tonight's key match.
"It was good that we didn't play until Thursday because the first couple days of the week, we just focused on getting that confidence back," Crisp said. "It was kind of nerve racking for me to see how we would come out today because the girls were so down after that loss on Saturday. But the girls did really good."
The back row dug the ball well for Prep, while the front line owned the net, Crisp said.
Necole Begay stood out for Prep with five aces and 15 kills. Kaylee Wood did her part with 20 digs, while Martinique Larvingo had five kills and nine blocks.
The Lady Eagles looked relaxed in the lopsided win, according to their coach. Crisp said she's hoping to see more of the same on Saturday.
"I really think that we found that confidence again," she said. "I think the girls will come ready to play. They looked relaxed, and they had fun tonight, and that's what they need to do on Saturday."
Shiprock earned hosting duties by winning Saturday's one-game playoff, but the district final will be held in Newcomb, as the floor in the Chieftain Pit gets revarnished over the weekend.
Piedra Vista 3, Cleveland 1
The Piedra Vista volleyball team will play for the District 1-6A title after the No. 3 Lady Panthers bounced No. 2 Cleveland with a 26-24, 25-19, 20-25 and 25-15 victory tonight in Rio Rancho.
PV (18-4) trailed the entire first set, but was always within a few points of the Lady Storm (12-10), allowing the Lady Panthers the chance to come back and eke out the win.
PV controlled the entire second set before having a letdown in the third.
But the slip-up didn’t cost the Lady Panthers, who dominated the fourth set to get the win.
“In the fourth set, they really jumped on them. I was really glad to see them turn it around after letting that third set slip away,” PV coach Ron Becker said. “I really wanted to put (Cleveland) away in three sets. But I was proud of them for battling back and doing so well in the fourth set.”
Three players finished with double-digit kills for PV. Elli Wright and Bebe Jaquez led the way with 14 kills each, and Courtney Moore finished with 12.
“To compete at this high of a level, I think you have to (have multiple options). If you get complacent and stick with one player, it makes it harder for players to side out,” Becker said. “We’re trying to keep the ball moving around and it gives our hitters a much better chance to succeed.”
Kamryn Gordon dished out 43 assists, and Rebekah Eaves recorded 23 digs in the win.
PV will play at Volcano Vista on Saturday night for the district championship.
The Lady Panthers had a chance to host the title match, but lost to the Lady Hawks (14-5) in straight sets during the regular-season finale on Saturday at PV. The loss put PV, VV and Cleveland tied atop the standings, but PV fell to third on tiebreakers.
“When we played them at our place and lost to them, I don’t feel we played anywhere near our game,” Becker said. “I’m looking forward to playing them at our absolute best and giving them a really good game.”
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.