Bears discard scrappy Coconino squad
PRESCOTT VALLEY — It definitely took longer than expected. But in the end, Bradshaw Mountain volleyball managed to get it done on Tuesday during a 3-1 victory over a Coconino team that wouldn’t go away.
As the Bears continue to tread through the rocky waters of the Grand Canyon region, they sought out to strengthen their grasp on second place with a home game on Tuesday. Standing in their way was Coconino, who proved to be a much tougher team than their record suggested.
Bradshaw Mountian Volleyball Vs Coconino
“We talked a lot about Coconino. They’re a good team. They have a lot of talent,” said Bears’ head coach Karrie Platt. “I thought we were prepared for them. But they have some really good hitters and I think that third set, they showed up to play and it just became a battle.”
And Platt was right. The Panthers came in wanting to prove they can throw their weight around just as good as the Bears. Lo and behold, they made their presence felt from the very start of the match, making Bradshaw Mountain work for every single point.
Fortunately for the Bears, they had Mailani Manuel as the senior outside hitter racked up 21 kills on a staggering .432 percentage to go along with 11 digs. Whenever Coconino didn’t gift wrap points for Bradshaw Mountain, Manuel was there to make a big play that killed any momentum the Panthers’ had built up.
In the early stages of each set, the Bears took a little while to catch their rhythm, which has somewhat been a reoccurring theme this season. The first two sets went back and forth until scores started to enter double digits, which was where the Bears usually gained separation.
However, Coconino just kept hanging around like that annoying mosquito you just couldn’t seem to squash. Despite Bradshaw Mountain taking the first two sets with 25-21 and 25-18 scores, Coconino was finally able to get the upper hand in the third set with a 25-22 win.
Looking to avoid a five-set match, the Bears came out refocused in the fourth and made one last push to close out the game for good. Even after facing multiple deficits throughout the set, Peyton Bradshaw leaped over the net for a thunder spike that earned the Bears a 25-22 set win.
“It felt really good [to get this win] because we need to get as much power points as we can to be region champs, especially if we beat Flagstaff,” said Bradshaw, who finished with six kills, two assists and 13 digs. “I wish we would’ve won in three. It would’ve been healthy for us, but I mean a win is a win. What can you do? We played hard at the end, we finalized on our mistakes and focused on getting better at every ball.”
As Bradshaw mentioned, snagging every win they can is crucial since Flagstaff is undefeated at 15-0 and 5-0 in region play. On Oct. 24, the Bears forced a fifth set against the Eagles, which was the Eagles’ first five-set match of the season.
Bradshaw Mountain still went on to lose that game against Flagstaff but the result still bodes well as the Bears will still have another crack at them on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at home. Platt believes her team can use the loss as motivation going forward and playing in a stacked region will help keep them on their toes.
“The loss to Flagstaff totally does motivate us. Flagstaff is a good team. I felt like we played them really tough but I feel like that’s our whole conference,” Platt said. “We got a lot of good teams and every single game and every single point has to be played at its best because everybody is here to play. There aren’t many teams that anybody could just walk over”
The Bears (8-3, 4-1 Grand Canyon) will head to Mohave to battle the Thunderbirds (4-11, 0-5 Grand Canyon) on Thursday.
Aaron Valdez is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @Valaaron_94. Email email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.