YUMA, Ariz. – Go out swinging. The sophomores for the Arizona Western volleyball team did that Friday night in Yuma, and the Lady Mats knocked off Yavapai in four sets 25-21, 26-24, 23-25 and 25-14 to close their regular season. Yolaine Mosquera Lopez led the way with 13 kills and Mafe Sandoval added 12.
AWC (15-10 overall, 7-6 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) had been eliminated from the postseason earlier in the week, but the win kept Yavapai (14-12 overall, 8-5 ACCAC) from claiming the conference title. The Lady Mats honored their three sophomores before the match: Mosquera Lopez, Sandoval and Seely Hartman.
The first set was incredibly tight from start to finish. The two teams traded points almost every serve, and the score was tied at every score from 4-4 to 17-17.
The Lady Mats took the lead when Yavapai’s Kaytlin Yost missed on an attack and knocked it out. Yenny Montoya Murillo crushed the next point down the line for a 19-17 lead. Yavapai cut it to 19-18 on the next point, but Ke’ila Willams and Sandoval blasted down kills for a 21-18 lead.
AWC executed well enough down the stretch to close the set. Mosquera Lopez split a block with a kill for a 24-21 lead, and a double block stuffed the Roughriders to end the set.
The second set was also close from start to finish. AWC went on a three-point run capped by a Haylee Paladini kill for a 15-12 lead, but Yavapai erased the deficit late in the match to go up 23-21.
Paladini tooled the Yavapai block to cut the lead to 23-22, but Yavapai scored off a tip to set up two straight set points. AWC libero Neyshlian Roman Concepcion squeezed a set into the front corner that Yavapai misplayed, and Sandoval punished the ball down for a kill that tied the set at 24 all. A Yavapai hitting error put AWC up 25-24. On the next point, Roman Concepcion dug up a Yavapai attack, and the pass set up Sandoval perfectly. She tipped a sneaky ball over the net and to the floor to win the set 26-24.
Arizona Western put together an early lead in the third set behind kills from Sandoval and Mosquera Lopez. AWC jumped out to a four-point lead at 8-4 and maintained it all the way to 14-10.
Yavapai responded with five straight points to take the lead. From that point on, each time Arizona Western rallied, the Roughriders answered to retake the lead. The two sides were tied at 23 before Yavapai scored two straight to win the set 25-23.
AWC dominated the fourth set. Yavapai never got into a rhythm, and the Lady Mats took a 4-3 lead and never trailed after that point. AWC hit .382 as a team and had 14 kills to one hitting error.
The Lady Mats used steady pressure to keep building on the lead, and Rebekah Eaves served up an ace that put AWC up by 10, 18-8. From that point, it was just a matter of closing out the match.
Sandoval led the Lady Matador defense with 21 digs in addition to her kills, and she also had five blocks. Roman Concepcion had 18 digs and six assists, and Teuila Lolotai had 25 assists and 13 digs.
AWC’s season is finished. The team will have a holiday volleyball camp sometime near the end of December or beginning of January, and the details will be posted to the Lady Matador Volleyball page on Facebook.
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.