Lady Panthers come up short in 6A quarterfinals

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista volleyball team pushed Centennial as far as it could, but couldn’t find a way to topple the No. 1 seed in the 6A state volleyball tournament.

Piedra Vista's Courtney Moore records a kill against Centennial on Friday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

Centennial, which ran its winning streak to 22 games and hasn’t lost to a New Mexico program all year, took the quarterfinal match in three sets, sweeping the Lady Panthers 25-20, 25-19 and 25-23 this afternoon at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

“We dug and passed pretty well, and we blocked them pretty well. I thought we did a really good job putting pressure on them with our serves,” PV coach Ron Becker said. “We put a lot of pressure on them. I can promise you (Centennial) didn’t get anything easy. The girls worked hard and played with a lot of heart. I’m really proud of the way they played. We played our very best volleyball.”

Becker said every set was a “major battle.”

PV (20-5) led nearly the entire first set before relinquishing the lead late in the set.

While the score remained close in the second set, the Lady Hawks (22-1) were in control most of the way. Then in the third set, the score was tied at 23, but Becker said a couple of mistakes led to Centennial taking the lead and earning the victory.

Courtney Moore led PV’s offense with 11 kills, followed by Elli Wright’s nine and Bebe Jaquez’s eight kills.

Piedra Vista's Bebe Jaquez records a kill against Centennial on Friday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

Kamryn Gordon finished with 30 assists for the Lady Panthers.

PV has been one of the top programs in the state for the past several years, but coming into the season, PV’s first at the 6A level, there were concerns about how well the Lady Panthers would be able to perform against larger programs night after night.

Becker said any of those concerns around the program were silenced by the Lady Panthers' superb play throughout the season.

“I’m really proud of the way they handled moving up to the 6A level. I really feel like we were a contender,” Becker said. “I really feel like they went into 6A and made a name for themselves.”

After the season-ending loss, Becker’s message to the Lady Panthers was one of gratitude, as he thanked his players for their effort and said goodbye to the seven seniors on the roster.

“I’m really proud of our seniors. This is going to be one of the hardest group of seniors we’ve lost. It’s going to be super sad to see them go,” Becker said. “That’s probably the most heartbreaking thing of all this. The loss is obviously tough, but losing them is going to be a much tougher thing to deal with.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.