FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista-Farmington rivalry has reached a point where much more than just crosstown bragging rights hang in the balance.
Entering Tuesday’s head-to-head bout at Scorpion Arena, both sides are chasing after La Cueva for the District 2-5A title, all while trying to at least solidify the No. 2 spot in district. Both sides are ranked among the top 10 in 5A volleyball.
“It’s cool to see us (both) in the top. We’ve been there all season long, that’s awesome,” Farmington coach Alana Rowland said. “I’m confident that the girls are going to come out and put up a good fight.”
Playing twice in district over the next couple weeks, with PV hosting the second of the two matchups on Nov. 1, it’s two golden opportunities to jump up in the standings and also knock the other down the standings.
“Especially since we’re second in the district right now, we really want to keep that spot,” PV setter Sam Harris said. “There is more on the line because they are in our district this year. Now we have to push ourselves to perform very well against them.”
PV is currently 12-3, 2-1 in district. Farmington sits in at 11-4, 1-2 in district. Tuesday's bout could very well be the difference between earning a No. 2 or 3 seed at state, or ending up as a No. 7 or 8 seed.
“I think it will make a big difference for seeding,” Panthers coach Ron Becker said. “It’s going to help both of us become better teams, which’ll help us in the long run for state. I think it’ll be a great match.”
And the matchup itself is a far cry from what it was like prior to 2017.
PV won 25 of its 26 head-to-head battles with Farmington between 2007 and 2016, sweeping the Scorpions in 18 of those victories.
However, Farmington’s come a long way since Rowland took over.
The Scorpions have won two of the last four meetings since September 2017, pushing the Panthers to four or five hard-fought sets each time.
“It’s awesome, and I’m glad I’m a part of it. We hope (the recent success) continues,” Farmington outside hitter Bergen Campbell said. “We hope it’s (going to be) a big game and we can at least give them a run for their money and win.”
Harris said Farmington’s improved digging up the sharp cross hits and tipped balls on defense, and has improved covering the tighter spots on the 10-foot line on the floor.
However, Harris said last year’s battles with Farmington did PV plenty of good for the here and now.
“We have gotten a lot better at reading the hitters with tipping and their sharp angles,” Harris said.
Now that PV's key group had the experience of facing tougher foes like Cleveland and Rio Rancho in 2017, combined Farmington's fast rise, a five-set slugfest could very well be in the works.
“I can see it happening,” Harris said. “We’ll do our best to eliminate (mistakes), do our best to just push and push all the way through. It’s going to be a really good match.”
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.