YUMA, Ariz. – Big kills and smart placement powered the Arizona Western volleyball team on Friday night in Yuma. The Lady Mats (13-9 overall, 5-5 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) racked up 43 kills in a tight three-set win over Division II 13th ranked Mesa 25-23, 25-21 and 25-21.
AWC’s middle hitters, Ke’ila Williams and Kiara Erving, combined for 16 kills, outside hitter Mafe Sandoval led the team with 11, and Haylee Paladini added 10 more. The varied approach on offense kept Mesa’s defense from getting completely comfortable.
The first set was extremely close, with neither side leading by more than five. AWC forced a Mesa (15-8 overall, 7-5 ACCAC) timeout when Paladini stuffed home a bad pass from Mesa that traveled over the net for an 18-15 lead.
Out of the timeout, Mesa scored, but the Lady Mats immediately answered with a 3-1 spurt capped by a Yenny Montoya Murillo block and a 22-17 lead.
Mesa came back and scored five straight to tie things up at 22, but Sandoval delivered a big kill to end the run. Sandoval bombed home a kill to win the set a few points later, 25-23.
In the second set, Arizona Western jumped out to an early 4-0 lead behind strong serving from Teuila Lolotai. She led off with an ace, and her serves kept Mesa off balance, and Williams whacked home a pair of kills.
Mesa worked back into the set and trimmed the lead to 13-11, but a lift stalled the rally. Montoya Murillo tooled the block on the next point, and the Lady Mats led by four once more.
AWC pushed the lead to 18-12 to force Mesa’s second timeout, but the Thunderbirds ran off an 8-1 run to take a 20-19 lead. Sandoval came through with a sneaky soft set that caught Mesa off guard for a kill to tie the match. That started a 6-1 run that Sandoval capped with an ace to win the set 25-21.
Arizona Western jumped out to an early lead again to start the third set. Sandoval blasted home three kills as AWC took a 9-4 lead to force a Mesa timeout. After the timeout, Mesa scrabbled back into the set and trimmed the lead to 10-9 on a missed set by the Lady Mats.
The two teams traded points, although Mesa never managed to tie the set or take the lead the rest of the way. Williams crushed two kills late in the match to put the Lady Mats up 22-20 and then 23-21. Williams dialed up a pair of aces to close things out.
Neyshlian Roman Concepcion led the team with 21 digs, and Lolotai had 21 assists and eight digs. Sandovall added nine digs to her 11 kills, and Sydney Hancock had 10 digs.
The Lady Mats are back in action on Tuesday as they host Chandler-Gilbert Community College at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are only $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and military members. Children 12 and under and AWC students and staff (with current school ID) get in for FREE!
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 2,300 certificates and degrees in 2016-17.