Who needs an ocean to be the best of the beach?
The Coconino Panthers beach volleyball, a program that is in just its fourth year, stunned the Millennium Tigers on Thursday to finish the regular season with a perfect 11-0 record.
In order to get the 3-2 win at Flagstaff Athletic Center-East, the Panthers needed their No. 1 duo of Drew Hannemann and Dana Parker to dig deep and rally for a third-set victory after falling into a 8-4 hole early in the tiebreaker.
"They didn't quit on any ball, and the level of play was so high," said Panthers head coach Greta Hannemann.
On Tuesday, the Valley Vista Monsoon head coach told Panthers head coach that there was no chance of knocking off Millennium.
Never say never. Well, at least that's what Drew and Parker did.
The pair rallied to take an 11-10 lead, forcing the Tigers to take a timeout. During the timeout, Greta said, Drew and Parker knew they had the momentum, and the wind, on their side.
Hitting into the wind, Parker and Drew scored the next three points before closing it out on the other side, 15-12.
The only other match to go to a third set was at court five, where Coconino's Ashley Monette and Shae Dahl pulled off a huge win. After dropping the first set 24-22, the pair answered with a 21-14 second-set win before taking it all with a third-set 15-9 clincher.
Greta said that win gave the entire team hope.
After Coconino lost on court two and three, Maddie Link and Breezy Weber kept the chances of a first-ever perfect season alive. At No. 2, Link and Weber dominated the first set 21-12 before icing it 21-19.
"Team two has been solid for us all season," Greta said.
Drew and Parker won a tightly contested first set 21-19 before dropping the next 21-17. The two figured out how to keep the ball out of the hands of Tigers' tall player and never looked back.
With the win, the Panthers, who played five games over the last four days, guaranteed themselves an opportunity to host the first round of the D-I playoffs, which start Wednesday.
Using an eight-run seventh inning, the No. 9 Flagstaff Eagles completed the series sweep over the No. 7 Mingus Union Marauders on Thursday in Cottonwood with a 15-6 victory.
Jimmy Guinan hit a home run, and Avery Wilson cleared the loaded bases in the seventh with a double for the Eagles, who won their third straight game.
With the win, the Conference 4A Eagles grabbed the Grand Canyon Region's top spot, where they hold a 6-2 record. Overall, Flagstaff improved to 8-3.
The Eagles started and ended the game with offensive prowess, notching four runs in the first before running up the score in the final frame. Eagles shortstop Brennan Brogni went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBI.
The teams went into the final inning tied at 6, but Eagles relief pitcher Drew Healy closed it out for the win. Suffering its first sweep of the season, Mingus put up four runs in the fourth, and then one in the fifth and sixth. Rylan DoBosh started on the mound and Jake Woods threw some relief. Jared Wetzel connected for a single and two RBIs.
The Eagles host Casa Grande on Saturday at 1 p.m. for a Senior Day game.
COCONINO 14, BUCKEYE UNION 3
Scoring in every inning of Thursday's run-rule shortened game, the No. 6 Coconino Panthers easily dispatched the No. 24 Buckeye Union Hawks.
Five different players recorded multi-hit games for the Panthers, with Kaitlyn Snopek finishing with three and McKenna Gladden, Rachel Tosi, Taylor Brown and Taylor Garcia each tallied two hits.
Additionally, of Coconino's 13 hits as a team, six went for extra bases, highlighted by Snopek's home run and Garcia's triple.
After Buckeye posted two runs in the first inning against Rachel Tosi, Coconino answered back with two in the bottom of the inning to tie, followed by six in the second and five in the third to break it wide open.
Tosi settled in after a bumpy first inning, allowing just one more run across her final four frames and striking out three and walking none.
Sitting at 9-3 overall and 5-2 in the Grand Canyon Region, the Panthers host No. 18 Mohave Friday at 4 p.m.
The D-II Coconino Panthers rallied in singles on Thursday in Cottonwood to edge the Mingus Union Marauders, 5-4.
With Faith Daab and Kailey Baker getting the only doubles win for the Panthers at No. 1, 8-1, it was up to the team's freshmen to rebound from their doubles loss to keep the team afloat.
After falling 8-5 in at No. 2 in doubles, Taylor Rhoton and Olivia Larson came alive in singles play to help their team remain on a winning streak as the season finale looms. Rhoton won 6-2 in both sets and Larson won 6-3, 6-4.