Panthers drop finale in regular season
Looking to end the regular season on a positive note, the Montezuma-Cortez High School volleyball team faltered.
Playing at home against Monument Valley High School on Thursday, Oct. 24, the Panthers were outscored by only 9 points, but lost in straight sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21.
Throughout the early stages of the opening set, points remained competitive, but after a run by Monument Valley, the Panthers trailed 13-8 and were forced to call a timeout.
A series of solid plays by the Panthers, which included an ace by junior Beth Brown, tied the set 14-14 and following aces by junior Abby Chupp, sophomore Laurel Chappell and junior Naomi Pennecoose, the score sat at 20-20.
“We had a lot of aces in the first set,” said Panthers’ head coach Barbara Chappell. “It helped us out a lot.”
The Panthers were unable to close the set however, tying things at 23-23 on a spike by Pennecoose before falling 25-23.
“I wish I had answers,” said Barbara Chappell of her team’s close first set loss. “We did a lot of things well. During crucial times, we have to figure out how we can push through.”
Opening the second set, the Panthers came out on fire, jumping out to a 10-5 lead on an ace by Pennecoose before eventually pulling ahead 16-7 after a beautiful spike by senior Mikkel Waltman off a Laurel Chappell quick-set.
At that point, things began to unravel for the Panthers however, and after several long runs by Monument Valley, the Panthers fell 25-22.
“We get in our heads,” said Panthers’ sophomore Jennifer Pierce of her team’s inability to close out sets. “The mental part of the game gets harder for us, not the physical part.”
Hoping to regain momentum in the third set, the Panthers fell behind 0-6 early and found it difficult to recover.
Although a Pennecoose spike would narrow the gap to 12-15 and a Pierce ace would later cut the Monument Valley lead to 21-19, the Panthers eventually lost the set 25-21.
Finishing the regular season with a 10-12-1 record, it remains uncertain whether the Panthers will play in the postseason. Regardless of whether the team plays more matches this season however, players were eager to point out that this year has been a mixture of good and bad.
“My team, they are my girls,” said Waltman. “We play hard. I’ll always remember all of our games where we played our hearts out and never gave up.”