Panthers place fifth in Piedra Vista Invite
Last year’s league champs, Fruita Monument, up next for MCHS
Six days after losing a tough match to the Dove Creek Bulldogs, the Montezuma-Cortez High School Panthers’ volleyball team returned to action at the Piedra Vista Invite in Farmington, N.M., seeking redemption.
Playing Friday, Sept. 13, the Panthers completed five matches, finishing fifth in the tournament with a 3-1-1 record.
While the fifth-place finish was likely lower than the Panthers would have liked, the team’s three wins provided hope for the remainder of the season.
Kicking off play against the Shiprock High School Chieftains, the Panthers played well, winning the best-of-three set match in straight sets, 25-15, 25-18.
“Our passing was good,” said Panthers’ head coach Barbara Chappell. “We had pretty good serve and receive.”
After their win against Shiprock, the Panthers played defending 4A New Mexico state champion, St. Pius X High School, falling in two sets, 24-26, 10-25.
“Our serve receive held pretty good,” Chappell said. “The first set, we were right with them. The second (set), we made some mistakes. I wouldn’t say that we played poorly, just that we got outplayed.”
Looking to rebound in their third match of the tournament, the Panthers faced eventual second-place finisher Farmington High School, splitting the match’s two sets, 25-22, 19-25.
“We hit the ball well,” Chappell said. “It just seems like when we get to the end, things fall apart a little bit. We have to get better at closing out matches.”
Competing against Kirtland Central in their fourth match of the tournament, the Panthers came through with a straight set victory, 25-16, 25-20, 25-10.
“I felt like we did all right,” Chappell said of her team’s play in the match. “Kirtland was scrappy. They had one decent hitter, but we did what we were supposed to do for sure.”
Closing out the tournament with the fifth-place match against Newcomb High School, the Panthers again played well, recording a straight-set victory.
Next on the Panthers schedule will be tough league matchups on the road against Fruita Monument High School on Friday, Sept. 20 and Grand Junction Central High School on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Although the Panthers’ upcoming schedule looks to be tough, the team is hoping to get a boost from the return of sophomore setter Laurel Chappell, who has been nursing an ankle injury.
“It will be tough,” said coach Chappell of the upcoming matches. “I’m looking to have my people healthy. (Fruita Monument) finished first in our league last year, so I’m sure that they will provide a great challenge.”