Five local volleyball teams reach state tourney

Piedra Vista earns No. 2 seed in its 6A pool

Jake Newby
  • 5A: No. 6 Aztec will play in Pool C against No. 3 Artesia and No. 10 Goddard.
  • 5A: No. 9 Farmington battles No. 4 Roswell and No. 5 Española Valley in Pool D.
  • 4A: No. 6 Shiprock takes on No. 3 Robertson and No. 10 Santa Fe Indian School in Pool C.
  • 4A: No. 11 Navajo Prep landed in Pool B, and will tangle with No. 2 St. Michael's and No. 7 Silver.

FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista, Aztec, Farmington, Shiprock and Navajo Prep volleyball teams learned their respective playoff seeds today when the state brackets were released.

Piedra Vista's Courtney Moore, center, and Elli Wright defend a tip by Farmington's Donna Hall to score a point on Sept. 6 at Scorpion Gym in Farmington.

The District 1-6A champion Lady Panthers were awarded the second seed in class 6A, where they'll join No. 7 Eldorado and No. 11 Cibola in pool play at 1 p.m. Thursday.  All first-round state volleyball pools play at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

PV coach Ron Becker said he thinks last week's district-title winning performance earned the Lady Panthers (19-4) the high seed.

"Even in the seeding show, they talked about how our district was arguably the toughest for volleyball, which I would agree with," Becker said. "So I think us winning that and winning three straight (matches) this week had a lot of bearing on our seeding."

District 1-5A champion Aztec (16-6) received the sixth seed in 5A and was lumped into a pool with No. 3 Artesia and No. 10 Goddard. Aztec coach Anna Strauss said she was hoping for a three-seed.

"I was wishing for three, but three is in the same pool as six anyway, I guess," Strauss said. "We don't know much about who we'll be playing at all; we never traveled south for any tournaments this year. But we're hoping to play pretty well and get a bye."

Pool play consists of three teams playing each other twice apiece, to determine seeding. Whoever finishes with the most wins in their pool gets a bye into the quarterfinals, which begin on Friday.

Farmington (11-11) earned the No. 9 seed in 5A, much to the surprise of first-year coach Alana Rowland.

"I'm very pleased, I wasn't expecting to be seeded that high, in all honesty," Rowland said. "There's legitimately only one girl on our team who has been to the state tournament. I think Lexi Jackson told me she made it as a freshman, now she's a senior. So it's gonna be nice to get some experience."

Shiprock's Tanisha Begay, left, and Aztec's Myra McCaskill battle it out during a game on Sept. 15 at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

Rowland said the Lady Scorpions will work on their serving and receiving and their passing — two areas they struggled in during Saturday's district-final loss to Aztec — until Wednesday, when the team packs up and heads to Rio Rancho.

Also in the Lady Scorps' pool is No. 4 Roswell and No. 5 Española Valley.

Farmington's and Aztec's pools get going at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Shiprock (15-6) suffered a bit of a setback when it was upset 3-0 in Saturday's District 1-4A championship match against Navajo Prep, so the Lady Chieftains will play from the No. 6 seed in 4A. Joining them in pool play is No. 3 Robertson and No. 10 Santa Fe Indian School.

The Lady Eagles (12-8) may not have made the postseason had they not defeated Shiprock on Saturday, but since they did, Prep received the No. 11 seed in its pool, which also contains No. 2 St. Michael's and No. 7 Silver.

Prep coach Rainy Crisp said she's hopeful her team will carry the momentum from Saturday's win into pool play.

"It's a new class for us, but I think the girls know they can play in this class," Crisp said. "It was important for us to make our own destiny, and we did that. Now it's about continuing to play with the kind of confidence they showed against Shiprock."

Pool play in 4A starts at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.