The Coconino Panthers overpowered their Grand Canyon Region opponent, the Mingus Marauders, 3-1, on Thursday.
The evening was not just any ordinary match, as it was Coconino's Senior Night and their third consecutive game of the week.
“This week tested us a lot and we’re still working through some things even though it’s the end of the season,” Panthers head coach Bree Davis said. “But it was a good testament to what they’re willing to do and what they’re willing to push through.”
The first set of the match was one where the 31st-ranked Marauders (4-12, 1-10 Grand Canyon Region) fell flat, leaving the No. 20 Panthers (8-8, 6-5) with a win of 25-13.
Going into the second stanza, the Marauders matched the skill level displayed by the Panthers and evened up the match with a 25-19 set victory.
In the third set the two teams had a tied game on 10 separate occasions until the Panthers took the final lead toward the end. The Marauders trailed the Panthers the entire set and answered back to every addition the Panthers made to the scoreboard. A defining moment in this set was when the Panthers went on a 4-0 run, with each serve having a minimum of two volleys. Standouts from this set were Anna Wiseman, Brooke Parker, Sophie Sinek and Megan Hicks.
The set ended in a score of 25-19 in favor of the Panthers, who held off the scrappy Marauders and regained the match lead.
“We’ve never had all four seniors on at the same time. Tonight was the first time we let them play all the way around and I think their maturity and their leadership and grit was a huge factor in the match,” Davis said about what gave the Panthers the upper hand over the Marauders.
The fourth set mirrored the third with both teams trading runs.
Right out of the fourth-set gates the Panthers established a 3-0 run with senior libero Kenzie Palmer serving. Quickly after the Panthers established some wiggle room on the scoreboard, the Marauders answered with a 7-0 run to go from down three to up four. As the set went on, however, the Panthers continued to press the net.
During the final points of the fourth, volleys exceeding a minimum of three elevated the crowd, the atmosphere and the scoreboard as the Panthers were able to break away from the consistent one-to-two-point lead. The Panthers efficiently delivered their victory of 25-20 by ending the game on a 4-0 run.
Walking away from Senior Night, Hicks accumulated a total of 11 kills and six digs, Sinek added 10 kills, 16 digs and one block, and Parker notched three kills, 39 assists and six digs.
For the final game of the regular season, the Panthers will take on the Flagstaff Eagles Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Flagstaff High School.