FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista volleyball team battled back from an 0-2 deficit in the District 1-6A championship match, sneaking past Volcano Vista 24-26, 10-25, 25-21, 27-25 and 15-13 tonight in Albuquerque.
“It was an incredible match — absolutely incredible,” PV coach Ron Becker said. “It was probably the toughest match we’ve had all year. It was pretty incredible.”
PV held a 24-18 lead in the first set before allowing the Lady Hawks to go on an 8-0 run for the win. Becker said the late collapse in the first had a bit of a hangover effect that influenced the second set, which also saw the Lady Panthers struggle with lineup changes as they tried to compensate for injuries.
“We couldn’t quite find a rhythm. We had a couple of players injured, and we were running through rotations and trying to do different things,” Becker said. “It was just one of those sets where things didn’t flow together.”
During the break between the second and third sets, Becker told the Lady Panthers to envision what it would be like to complete a comeback from down 0-2 to win the title.
“I wanted them to think about what an amazing and awesome feeling that would be, and they did that. I am so overly proud of them tonight,” Becker said. “To be down 2-0 to that good of a team and battle back the way they did, they fought with so much heart and passion, this is just an incredible, classy group of girls.”
Fortunately for PV, Becker said the injuries aren’t very serious, and he expects the Lady Panthers to be at full strength for the state tournament, which starts Thursday in Rio Rancho.
PV setter Kamryn Gordon finished with 46 assists and spread the ball around to a variety of PV hitters.
Courtney Moore led the Lady Panthers with 17 kills. Elli Wright and Bebe Jaquez finished with 14 and 10 kills, respectively, and Becker said Meagan Ellis, who had seven kills, provided big hits at crucial times in the match.
PV now waits to learn what seed it will be in the 6A state tourney. Becker said he expects the Lady Panthers to get the No. 4 or 5 seed, which could put them in the same pool as Volcano Vista. The bracket will be revealed Sunday.
Navajo Prep 3, Shiprock 0
The Navajo Prep volleyball team's confidence was shattered by Shiprock last week, but the Lady Eagles pulled off a 180-degree turn in tonight's District 1-4A championship match.
One week ago, the Lady Eagles (12-8) were swept by Shiprock for the regular-season district crown, but coach Rainy Crisp’s team showed mental toughness by coming back and sweeping that same Shiprock team 25-13, 25-18, 25-19 in Newcomb.
“It was just a great win for us. Everybody was on,” Crisp said. “The game of volleyball is so mental and is based so much on momentum, as well. Shiprock did a great job at taking us out, mentally, the last two times we played them. We were able to do that to them tonight.”
Martinique Larvingo was everywhere for the Lady Eagles, finishing with 15 kills, 11 assists and six blocks. Taina Sandoval helped Prep out with 19 assists and four aces, while Kaylee Wood managed 15 digs.
The dominant district title win means Prep earns a spot in the state tournament, along with the Lady Chieftains (15-6), who never recovered from a slow start in tonight’s match.
“In the mental game, they didn’t do so well,” Shiprock coach Teri Atcitty said. “It was pretty much not our night.”
The Lady Chieftains earned home court by beating Prep last week, but because the floor at the Chieftain Pit was being resurfaced over the weekend, the teams had to square off in Newcomb.
Atcitty said it was disappointing that the district title was decided at a neutral site, but she didn’t think that was the primary reason her team lost.
“It definitely wasn’t a home game, and that could have played a role, but all in all, it was just a mental breakdown that did us in,” Atcitty said.
Prep and Shiprock find out where they fit into next week’s state tournament on Sunday when the brackets are released.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.