‘This was a test’: Lady Warriors hope 5-set win serves them well at state
A come-from-behind win was what the Tuba City netters needed.
The Lady Warriors are hoping their five-set win over Page during last Saturday’s 3A North Region tournament finals will serve them well for the upcoming Arizona 3A state volleyball tournament.
“I feel like this was a test,” Tuba City coach Harlan Barlow said, following his team’s 20-25, 25-14, 19-25, 25-14 and 15-8 win. “It taught us that we have to stay consistent … We needed something like this to prepare us for state. State is going to be competitive and we need to learn how to get out of those adversities and challenges.”
The Warriors earned the No. 3 seed and will play No. 14 seed Phoenix Horizon Honors on Friday at Camelback High School in Phoenix at 11 a.m.
The 16-team state tournament will conclude on Saturday with the championship game set for 7 p.m. at North High School.
Barlow said there are a number of teams that can challenge for the 3A state crown, including last year’s state champ Phoenix Northwest Christian.
“They return a lot of their players from last year’s team,” he said of the No. 6 Lady Crusaders.
The field of contenders, Barlow said, includes top-seeded Chandler Valley Christian, No. 2 Snowflake, No. 4 Tucson Tanque Verde and No. 5 Buckeye Odyssey Institute.
“We’ve never seen Odyssey Institute or Valley Christian but Snowflake has played those teams close,” the Tuba City coach said. “I think it’s really anybody’s game. I just feel like whoever shows up is going to win.”
In Saturday’s regional finals, Barlow’s squad was pushed to five sets for the very first time this season. And after trailing 2-1 in sets, the Tuba City coach was glad to see his team battle through it.
“I told them that this was your challenge,” he said. “It was really up to them and they were determined to win this.”
That determination was especially present in the fourth and fifth sets with Tuba City building an insurmountable lead.
In the fourth, the Warriors used an 8-0 run and a 5-0 rally to open up a 16-5 cushion as they coasted to a 25-14 win to force a fifth set.
In the deciding set, Tuba City seized an early 7-0 cushion behind five winners, which included a pair of aces by freshman Melia Barlow.
The Lady Sand Devils regrouped and cut that early deficit down to 8-6 but a kill by senior middle hitter Jayda Chee started another rally as Tuba City won its second consecutive 3A North title.
“We started out the game kind of complacent,” said Chee, who tallied a match-high 24 kills. “This was the first time we went to a fifth set so we never experienced this but as a team we didn’t want to lose.”
Chee said before the season started one of their goals was to capture the region title. She’s hoping they can win four more games to conclude her senior year.
“Our last state championship was in 2012 and we want to put our own banner up there at school,” she said.
Melia Barlow, who added seven kills and four aces, said the underclassmen are hoping to send the seniors out on a positive note.
“We put a lot of work into this and I really want us to win state for our seniors,” she said. “I want to make it the best for them.”
For the match, Tuba City outhit the Sand Devils by a 54 to 34 count in kills. Helping in that effort was junior Mikeya Sheppard, who finished with a dozen winners.
For Page, Emma Yazzie finished with nine kills while Torrance Begay and Neve Redhair added eight apiece. Senior middle blocker Zhanna Edwards chipped in six kills and five stuff blocks.