PRESCOTT, Ariz---A shorthanded Arizona Western Lady Matador volleyball team could not dig themselves out of a 2-0 deficit against the Yavapai RoughRiders Wednesday night, falling in four sets on the road.
The Mats (11-10 overall, 4-1 ACCAC) got off to a flat start in what was a highly anticipated matchup between the two unbeaten Division I teams in ACCAC play.
Yavapai (13-2 overall, 5-0 ACCAC) jumped out in front thanks to some excellent blocks from their middles.
The Matadors occasional struggles in the opening set on the road surfaced as the RoughRiders rode their blockers to an early 8-2 lead. AWC never could string together a run in the opening set as Yavapai pulled away to a 25-9 score.
The Mats responded at the start of the second set. Lauolive Tonga powered home a pair of kills as the Mats built a four point lead for most of the set. But Yavapai recovered from a 18-14 deficit to pull even. The teams exchanged points and leads to 22 before Yavapai forced set point at 24-22. Garciglia Banuelos delivered a kill after a long rally to prolong the match before a service error by the Mats gave Yavapai a 2-0 lead.
The third set again saw the Matadors take an early lead behind Tonga’s attack and blocking abilities. Cristina Reyes’ long service run was punctuated by a trio of Tonga block as AWC built an 18-7 lead before Yavapai’s first timeout. The Mats would make it 23-13 and created set point after Jovana Papaz’ powerful kill. But Yavapai fended off AWC four separate occasions before Papaz dropped in the final point for the Mat’s first set win 25-17.
Yavapai jumped out in front of set four, building a 9-3 lead before the Mats rallied behind Garciglia Banuelos’ serve to cut the difference in half. Down 12-7, Papaz stopped a YC rally and pulled the Mats within three. The RoughRiders again ballooned the lead to five at 18-13 to force a Matador timeout. The Mats found themselves down 23-14 before three straight points pulled them within six. But the RoughRiders forced match point at 24-17.
Papaz’ service run was highlighted by a big kill by Tonga, a massive block from Luisa Maria Mesa, and an expertly placed shot by Garciglia Banuelos.
The Matadors return home against the other unbeaten team in the ACCAC, the Scottsdale Fighting Artichokes, Friday night at 7:00pm in The House in Yuma.
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.