Piedra Vista Invite

PV beats Farmington in all-city finals

By Nicole Baker
Special to the Navajo Times

FARMINGTON, Sept. 19, 2013

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(Special to the Times - Curtis Ray Benally)

Piedra Vista Lady Panther Autumn Cora Begay attempts a kill against the Farmington Lady Scorpions during the championship match of the Panther Classic Invite on Saturday. The Lady Panthers defeated the Lady Scorpions, 3-1.

For the last two years, the Piedra Vista Invitational has been marked with first time occurrences.

Last year the Piedra Vista Lady Panthers won their own volleyball tournament for the first time since the tournament's beginning.

This year marked the first edition of an all-Farmington championship final, as the Panthers defeated crosstown rivals Farmington Lady Scorpions.

"It was intense from the start to the end," PV outside hitter Autumn Begay said. "Farmington was really good. This was a big eye opener. We're ready to see them again. We're going to be training even harder."

"It was neat to have an all-Farmington final. It was the first time in this tournament's history ever," PV coach Ron Becker added. "Farmington is playing really, really good. They're going to be tough. I'm looking forward to the next couple of matches we're going to have with them."

The Lady Panthers successfully defended its title for the second year in a row by closing out Farmington in four tightly contested matches.

Although Farmington took the early advantage in the first game, Piedra Vista scored six straight points to take the lead. The Lady Panthers ended the game on a five-point run behind double kills from both Tegan Woosley and Samantha Sofka for a 25-16 win.

The Lady Scorpions refused to yield in a second game that saw 15 ties, with last one at 22-all before Farmington scored the final three to even the match at one set a piece.

"I thought our team fought really hard," said Lady Scorpion Jordan Curry. "It was really big to be in the championship game É we just know that we have another chance at them in district. We want to see them again very, very bad."

The third game was just as close as the Lady Panthers and Lady Scorpions continued to battle through another tight match that featured 14 ties. It looked like Piedra Vista had it under control after pushing ahead for a 23-20 advantage.

Farmington, however, closed that gap down to 24-23 before Sofka had the final say with a big kill for Piedra Vista.

"They've been battling hard," Becker said. "We're not getting any easy wins. They have to fight hard for everything. They really put their backs against the wall and (they) fight hard."

The Lady Panthers took early control in the next game, but they were unable to grab the full control as Farmington kept the match close before PV put it away with a 25-21 win.

To reach the championship game, Farmington swept perennial powerhouse Monument Valley in the semifinals.

"We set a lot of marks today," said Lady Scorpion coach Dan Hickman. "The last time we beat Monument Valley was 16 years ago, when my daughter played.

"(And) going up against PV, who have been ruling this district for a long time, I think this gives us some credibility and hopefully we can look to see what the future has for us in coming month," he added. "The girls showed maturity, they showed poise, stamina and leadership. They've grown a lot from last year. I hope the ladies will take this and build from it."

The Lady Panthers also got a taste of revenge, as they took down defending Class 4A state champs Albuquerque St. Pius, 3-0, in a rematch of last year's state championship game.

"A lot of people doubted us after last year and losing our height as a team," said Sofka. "I feel like with our heart we can do just as well É We have a lot of options to go to. We're not relying on one hitter. It's making a huge difference. We're able to move the ball around more and that makes it harder for other teams to read what we're doing."

Becker agreed.

"It's such a different team from last year and they're still really really strong," he said. "They function as a team and they really, really well together. They work well together on the floor, which is super important. It makes a big difference."

Monument Valley, which has won this tournament countless times, came up short against Farmington, losing 25-18, 26-24, 28-26 in the semifinals.

"We were pretty shocked. We expected to be in the championship game. It was heartbreaking to know we would be playing for third place," said Lady Mustang middle hitter Brooke Curlyhair. "We decided that if we were going to play for third place, we were going to show every that we should be playing in the championship game and what we are capable of."

MV went on to beat Albuquerque St. Pius, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18, for the third place trophy.

"We know as a team we have each other to pick one another up," said Lady Mustang Amber Whitehair. "We're working hard together so we know we can to do something good."

Monument Valley coach Renee Gilmore said her team couldn't get anything going against Farmington, especially with their passes and at the service line.

But in the third place game the first-year coach was pleased with their efforts as they closed out the Sartans in straight sets.

"They got it together, so I'm happy with that," Gilmore said of their play against the Sartans. "As long as I know that they can bounce back and bring themselves back up I'm good with that. We still have some improving to do along the way. They're all willing to work harder."

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