FARMINGTON — The second-seeded Piedra Vista volleyball team is in the quarterfinals at the 6A state volleyball tournament after sweeping Gadsden in the first round tonight at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.
After finishing second in pool play, the Lady Panthers made quick work of the Lady Panthers, cruising to a 25-16, 25-17 and 25-14 victory.
“They played really well,” PV coach Ron Becker said of the Lady Panthers against Gadsden. “They really stepped up. They passed well and blocked well. I’m hoping that carried on (Friday) because they played lights out against Gadsden. (Gadsden) is a solid team, we just stepped up and played the way we’re capable of.”
The Lady Panthers (21-4) spread their offense around in the win over Gadsden (16-7). Elli Wright led the team with eight kills while Courtney Moore, Stephanie Schmidt and Bebe Jaquez recorded seven kills each.
In pool play earlier in the day, PV had a slow start, dropping its first match to Cibola, a team it had beaten three times this season.
Becker said the Lady Panthers did not pass nearly as well as they usually do and had trouble against Cibola standout hitter Hannah Thompson, who will be playing next year at Notre Dame.
After the loss to Cibola, PV got back to its winning ways against Eldorado.
PV will play No. 1 seed Centennial (21-1), which hasn't lost since its season opener on Aug. 16, in the quarterfinal at 3 p.m. Friday at the SASC.
“I was able to watch them a little bit today," Becker said. "They’ve got a lefty who’s really, really strong, and their libero is super strong. But I really feel if we play our best game, which we’re going to have to, I don’t think there’s any reason we can’t beat them. We just have to step up. It’s going to be a knock-out, drag-out match for sure.”
The two teams met in the 5A final in 2014 when the Lady Hawks knocked off the Lady Panthers in five sets to win the state title.
Becker doesn’t plan to talk to the Lady Panthers about the 2014 loss to Centennial, saying they’re well aware of what happened in the past.
“I think they’re pretty motivated, and a lot of them remember that match pretty well,” he said. “The good thing is, we got them (in the semifinals) the year before that, so it kind of goes back and forth. Hopefully, it’s our turn.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.