Flagstaff volleyball head coach Beth Haglin kept telling setter Bridget Bond to keep believing in her ability during Tuesday's crosstown match against Coconino.
The sophomore showed a bit of why Haglin likes to use her along with senior setter Devynn Hatathlie in the Eagles 25-15, 25-22, 25-14 sweep at Flagstaff's War Memorial Gymnasium.
No. 3 Flagstaff took its third straight win since losing its first and only match of the season last week against top-ranked Deer Valley of the 4A Conference. While Flagstaff upped its record to 11-1 overall and a perfect 7-0 in the Grand Canyon Region with Tuesday's victory, the 21st-ranked Panthers dropped to 3-6 and 1-4 in the Grand Canyon.
Bond had an all-around performance in the win with 12 assists, six kills and four blocks. Gracelyn Nez recorded 17 kills, 13 digs and three blocks, Paetyn Nakai added 26 digs and Hatathlie had 17 assists.
"Bridget is going to be a huge player for us in the future," Haglin said. "In the beginning of the third set I said to her, 'We put you on this team for a reason, you don't ever come out of the game for a reason; you need to believe in yourself as much as we do.' I felt like in the third set she kinda evolved with more confidence."
Haglin added that Bond is important to her team's 6-2 system, and even in the coming years with Hatathlie set to graduate next spring when the team could go to a one-setter system.
The Panthers stayed with the Eagles for most of the opening stanza, keeping pace with the Eagles on a 10-10 start sparked by a few bounces in Coconino's favor and a pair of kills by Megan Hicks -- both being assisted by Brooke Parker.
The Eagles used an extended 15-5 run to close the first set with a win, backed by four kills from Nez and a strong effort at the net by Flagstaff's blockers.
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The young Coconino squad led for most of the second stanza, looking like they were set to knot the match at 1-all. But after leading 22-19, the Panthers committed a pair of hitting errors and then Flagstaff's Shea Wilson served over an ace to tie the set up at 22-all.
Flagstaff rattled off three straight points -- as part of its 6-0 run to close to set -- off a kill from Alyssa Prager, a kill from Nez and another ace by Wilson.
The third game got rolling with a slow pace, with each team trading errors for the first couple points. After being in an 7-all tie, the Eagles outscored the Panthers 18-7 to call it a night.
Even with the Eagles seeing another strong year and the Panthers' program building with first-year head coach Serena Wallace, Haglin said you still don't always know what can happen when the rivals step out on the court.
"I always dread it because you never know what's going to happen; it just depends on the emotions," Haglin said. "Like the second set, I feel like our emotions got to us but at least were able to pull it out. I enjoy the game, it's a fun match and Coconino's team is awesome. I love them to death and I love Serena; she's doing a great job with those kids."
As for her Coconino squad, Wallace said Tuesday showed where both programs currently stand -- but that doesn't take anything away from the good her team did against the Eagles.
"I think tonight was a testament to that. I think we did some amazing things, things that I asked them to do just yesterday and they did it in the game today. We need endurance and to believe in ourselves," Wallace said, adding that she is working to find consistency as a head coach to further help her team.
The Panthers travel to Kingman for a match with No. 8 Lee Williams (9-2, 6-2 Grand Canyon) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. The Eagles will host No. 33 Mohave (2-9, 0-7 Grand Canyon) Tuesday at 6 p.m.