After taking the first two sets of Friday's Homecoming match, the Northland Prep Spartans lost to the Sedona Red Rock Scorpions, who rallied for the 3-2 victory.
The opening set between the 2A Conference, Central Region rivals started with the Spartans taking a 7-0 lead, as senior Avery Thomas put points on the board with her block. Soon after, No. 10 Sedona started answering No. 19 Northland Prep's offense and closed up the deficit. With the help of a kill from Thomas, the set ended 30-28.
The stakes couldn’t have been higher at the beginning of the fifth set, with Sedona looking to stay perfect in the region standings alongside the Glendale Prep Griffins. For the first half, it looked as though Northland Prep would be able to pull it off. As the set dragged out, however, Sedona was climbed to the advantage before closing it out with a the 15-11 decider.
The Spartans, who opened a five-match homestand Friday, fell to 2-4 in the region standings, with their overall record moving to 7-5. The Scorpions improved to 11-1 overall and 5-0 in the region.
Feeding off the momentum of winning the first set, the Spartans kept the Scorpions on their toes throughout the second frame. Several blocks and quick kills by Northland Prep prevented Sedona from taking any significant leads. With the help of juniors Sofie Linskey, who had 12 kills by the match's end, and Casey Auza, who recorded 39 assists, the Spartans took the second set, 25-17.
At the start of the third, the Scorpions faced considerably less momentum and intensity from the Spartans and started battling their way back to take the first of two regular-season meetings between the teams. Suddenly on the defensive, the Spartans lost several rallies to the scrappy Scorpions, who stayed alive with the 25-17 third-set win.
“We dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t quite get out of,” said Spartans head coach Lacey Ebersole. “We had some crucial missed serves that can cut our momentum pretty quick in a close game like this.”
The intensity of the fourth set was high as the Spartans fought to take the match. The rallies lasted longer as each team made equally amazing saves throughout the set. However, it wasn’t enough for the Spartans to just make saves. Despite getting several points in what looked like a possible comeback, the Spartans lost the set 25-22.
“It wasn’t any one thing,” Ebersole said, “The mental errors add up, and the team that’s able to stay mentally in the longest is going to win.”
Northland Prep hosts the Camp Verde Cowboys 6 p.m. Tuesday for a region match.
COCONINO 45, BRADSHAW MOUNTAIN 16
Coming off a convincing 45-16 win over Mingus Union, the Bradshaw Mountain Bears continued their climb up the Grand Canyon Region standings with a trouncing of the Coconino Panthers on Friday in Prescott Valley.
Taking a 35-7 lead thanks to touchdowns from its defense and offense, including a long reception for a score and a pick-six, the Bears, the 33rd-ranked team in the 4A Conference, advanced to 2-1 in the region and 2-6 overall with the 49-13 win over the No. 32 Panthers.
Coconino got on the board in the second quarter when junior quarterback Ty Furr connected with senior Abel Harris for a touchdown pass. The two connected again in the fourth quarter for a 19-yard TD, but the game was out of reach. The Panthers' overall record dropped to 1-6, while its region mark fell to 0-3.
The Bears, under the direction of new head coach Chuck Moller, started the season on a five-game skid.
Timmy Young had two interceptions for the Bears, one for a score and another that came on a Panthers fourth-and-7 play at Bradshaw's 23-yard line. Kyle Casados, however, answered for the Panthers, stopping the Bears' ensuing drive in the third quarter with an interception.
Furr finished 6 of 25 passing, while Bears quarterback Austin Gonzales threw for five touchdowns, three of which ended up in the arms of Bryan Price.
Working on the ground and in the air, Zack Christopher and Furr moved the chains most of the night for the Panthers, who also got some big defensive stops from Kyle Crenshaw. Crenshaw helped Coconino then go on a drive, but penalties and Bradshaw's defense got back the ball, and the Bears turned their first snap of the new possession into Price's third and final score and a 42-7 lead.
A two-game homestand awaits Coconino and starts with the Prescott Badgers, who lost 38-6 Friday to the Mingus Union Marauders.