CASPER, Wyo. – For the second straight day, the Arizona Western College volleyball team couldn’t overcome mistakes at crucial points in a match. This time, they fell in four sets to Hill College 25-17, 25-19, 21-25, 25-17 and were eliminated from the NJCAA National Tournament.
A sequence at the end of the fourth set summed up the match. Down 23-17, AWC (26-4 overall) setter Stephany Orjuela took a hard swing on the second touch that bounced off the chest of Hill’s setter and back over. No one could quite get to the ball, and it hit the floor to set up match point.
The Lady Mats jumped out to an early lead in the first set behind a strong start from Jessica Rafay. She had three kills, and Georgia Romine-black added two more as the team took a 7-3 lead. Rafay finished with nine kills.
Hill worked back into the match as Taylor Hall and Chastiny Brown picked up a couple of kills. Hill finally tied the match at 14 with a block. That block was part of a five point run that put Hill up 17-14 after a double block by Destiny Washington and Chastiny Brown. Arizona Western could only close the gap to two, and Hill scored the final five points to win 25-17.
In the second set, both sides traded one point leads back and forth early. With a 10-9 lead, Rafay started a 4-1 spurt for Arizona Western with a pair of kills that made it 14-10.
Hill’s Yasmine Ataee started a 5-1 run with a pair of kills that tied the match up at 15. Hill took the lead for good on a Kenna Bing kill that made it 18-17, and the team pulled away to win 25-19.
In the third set, Hill jumped on AWC early and raced out to a 9-3 lead. Deja Lester and Romine-Black started a rally to get the team back into the game. Romine-Black had a pair of kills, and Lester picked up three block assists as the Lady Mats took an 11-10 lead.
After a timeout, Hill retook the lead, but the Lady Mats were back into the match. After a couple of kills by Mafe Sandoval put the Lady Mats up, Hill tied the match at 21. AWC took a timeout, and Hill was called for a net violation to put Arizona Western up for good. The Lady Mats took the set 25-21.
The fourth set started out all Hill College as Arizona Western struggled to get into a rhythm. The Lady Mats were down 17-9 after committing eight unforced errors.
A timeout broke the funk, and the Lady Matadors started to play better. The team managed to close the gap to 20-16 after Romine-Black bumped a ball over that Hill didn’t return. She led the team with 13 kills.
After one more AWC point, the Lady Mats ran out of steam. Hill rolled off five straight points to win the set 25-17.
The Lady Matadors close the season after winning the Region I/District B Championship for the first time under head coach Lorayne Chandler. Chandler was named the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Co-Coach of the Year as well as the District B Coach of the Year in only her second season as the head coach at Arizona Western.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,400 certificates and degrees in 2015-16.