The No. 18 Coconino Panthers had the No. 4 Bradshaw Mountain Bears on the ropes most of the night at Coconino High School. At times the Panthers had the strong Bradshaw attack under wraps behind the block.
But Coconino couldn't hold on late in the match between the two Grand Canyon Region teams, dropping the final two sets to the Bears in a 3-2 loss, 23-25, 25-16, 22-25, 25-22, 15-7.
"Even this is a win for me. Taking Bradshaw to five is awesome -- that's a great team," Panthers head coach Serena Wallace said. "It shows where we are at."
Coconino fell to 5-9 overall and 3-6 in the Grand Canyon Region as the Bears snapped the Panthers' two match winning streak. Bradshaw improved to 11-2 and 7-1, with the lone loss coming via the No. 3 Flagstaff Eagles.
Brooke Parker had 17 assists, six kills and three aces, doing a bit of everything to keep her team alive throughout the night. Rikenna Curtis added 13 kills and three aces, while Megan Hicks and Morgan Derr made their marks in the middle, holding off the Bradshaw attack.
The Bears' strength came from the middle off the attack from Petyon Bradshaw and Sydney Rittershaus. The two came alive in the deciding fifth set, connecting on four momentum swinging kills in the final game.
Wallace thought her team did well early to keep the Bears attack from getting much rhythm.
"I would say Bradshaw has the best middles in our region, so that was something we were prepared for, and we did a really great job of shutting them down in the beginning," Wallace said. "Toward the end they kind of had their way. ... Tonight our block wasn't struggling. I'm really proud of them."
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The 4A Conference Panthers only let the second and fifth sets get out of hand, keeping the other three close with the Bears.
Coconino had the first set tied at 18-all, and used a quick burst to take a 21-18 advantage. The Panthers held on to the three-point lead, closing the first behind a pair of kills from Mireya Cabrera.
The Panthers got down early in the second set 11-7 and couldn't climb back. The Panthers pulled within two points but the Bears kept them at bay, using a late 8-1 run to take the second set. A few errors and missed blocks by the Panthers contributed to the Bears' second-set surge.
The third set gave the Panthers the answer they needed as they only trailed once and were tied twice in the set, leading nearly wire to wire. With a late lead up 23-19, the Panthers withstood another solid push by the Bears to win the set off a kill from Hicks in the middle.
Parker rattled off a pair of aces to start the fourth set to ignite Coconino to a 9-4 lead early. Bradshaw eventually tied the set at 15-all and the two traded points until late into the set.
The Bears outscored the Panthers 6-3 down the stretch of the fourth to set up their fifth-set win.
Coconino hosts No. 37 Mohave (2-13, 0-10 Grand Canyon) Tuesday at Coconino High School at 6 p.m.