YUMA, Ariz. – Outside hitters Yenny Montoya Murillo and Haylee Paladini led the way on sophomore night for the Arizona Western College volleyball team (19-6 overall, 11-2 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference). The two combined for 28 kills in a four-set win (25-16, 25-21, 29-31, 25-20) over Eastern Arizona College (17-10 overall, 8-5 ACCAC). AWC clinched the ACCAC title for the second time in four seasons under head coach Lorayne Chandler.
AWC jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the first set thanks to a kill by Montoya Murillo and back-to-back aces for sophomore middle Ke’ila Williams. Montoya Murillo racked up 18 kills and 17 digs in the match.
Four straight AWC errors let Eastern tie the set at six, but EAC had three straight errors to put AWC up 9-6. The two sides stayed close, and Eastern Arizona’s Erin Willis hit a kill down the middle to cut AWC’s lead to 13-12.
Paladini answered with a big slam, and AWC ripped off four straight points. Montoya Murillo had back-to-back kills for a 17-12 lead that forced an Eastern timeout. Eastern Arizona scored immediately out of the timeout, but the Lady Mats kept their rhythm and finished off the 12-4 run with a Jovana Papaz kill to win the set 25-16. Papaz had nine kills and eight digs in the match.
A kill each from Teuila Lolotai, Lisbeth Rosario Martinez and Montoya Murillo put AWC up 8-4 early in the second set. EAC slowly crept back into it though. Back-to-back errors by Arizona Western put Eastern up 11-10 a few points later.
After the two sides traded points back and forth, Paladini smashed one of her 10 kills to tie it up at 15. Williams followed it up with her third ace of the match to put AWC up for good. Montoya Murillo had back-to-back kills, and a double block by Kiara Erving and Rosario Martinez put AWC up 20-16 and forced an Eastern timeout. The AWC lead grew to six after the timeout before EAC trimmed it to 23-20 and 24-21. A service error by Eastern’s Jessica Sherwood gave Arizona Western the set, 25-21.
Eastern Arizona bounced back with a strong third set. The Gila Monsters broke away from Arizona Western in the middle of the set and took what seemed to be a commanding 23-15 lead after back-to-back kills by Harley Cummard and Jessica Sherwood.
Rosario Martinez pounded a kill down the middle to jump-start an Arizona Western run. A double block by Papaz and Williams, an EAC hitting error and an Erving kill trimmed the lead to 23-19 and forced an Eastern timeout.
Eastern scored out of the timeout to take a 24-19 lead, but AWC ripped off a quick 5-0 run to tie it at 24 and extend the set. AWC finally took a lead at 29-28, but EAC’s AveRee Reynolds dumped a ball over for a kill that started a 3-0 run for Eastern to win the set 31-29.
The fourth set was close early, but AWC pulled away in the middle. With a 12-11 lead, Teuila Lolota landed two aces, and Papaz had a kill to open up a 15-11 lead. Eastern called timeout and used back-to-back blocks to cut the lead to 18-17 before Montoya Murillo killed one that put AWC back up by two, 19-17.
A few points later, Montoya Murillo extended the lead to 22-18 with an ace, and Lolotai threw down an ace that put the match away, 25-20.
Neyshlian Roman Concepcion led the defense with 26 digs, and Sydney Hancock had 24 assists. Lolotai finished with 23 assists and 12 digs.
The Lady Mats will host the winner of Eastern Arizona and Yavapai for the Region I Title on Friday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 to the match, and no passes will be accepted. AWC students can sign in at the door with their ID and 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.