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home : sports : local June 28, 2016

10/22/2013 10:18:00 AM
Lady Vikes volleyball team looking to qualify for state playoffs
Williams High School Lady Vikings volleyball team. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Williams High School Lady Vikings volleyball team. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

After one win and two losses last week, the Williams Vikings volleyball team is ranked 17th in the division, and the girls are hoping wins in the final games of the season will qualify them for the state playoffs.

Fifty-four teams compete in Division V, and the top 16 will advance to the state playoffs, which start the weekend of Nov. 2.

"We're in a position where if we win the next three games we stand a good chance of going to state," said head coach Heather Walker. "We just need to play at our level and play consistent with what we know and if we do that we should do well."

As of press time, the Lady Vikes had a 10-6 record, with a game scheduled for yesterday against Mayer.

In their first match last week, the Lady Vikes lost 3-2 to Phoenix Christian on Thursday. Walker called it a tough match, with Williams winning the first two games and then losing the next three after Phoenix Christian changed its offense.

"It felt like they needed the two games to get warmed up and then by the third game they had found our weaknesses," Walker said. "They started hitting harder and they started hitting where we were not, so we struggled to play defense against their hitters."

On Friday, the Lady Vikes took on Rancho Solano and lost 3-0. On Saturday, Williams won its match against Phoenix Day School 3-0.

Season highlights

Walker, who was the assistant volleyball coach last year, is in her first year as head coach.

"So far this season has been great," she said. "The group of girls we have this year is just phenomenal in terms of their attitude and their character and the way that they work as a team."

On Sept. 13 and 14, the team competed in the Spartan Classic tournament in Ash Fork and came in first place out of seven teams. Then on Oct. 11 and 12, the Lady Vikes played in the Joseph City Invitational tournament and finished 10th out of 15 teams.

Walker said the Lady Vikes' main strength this season has been playing as a team rather than as individuals.

However, the team still has some room for improvement, Walker said.

"We're still learning how to finish strong, and if we don't get momentum early in a game it can be hard for us to pull out of that and finish like we know we can play," Walker said. "We're working on mental toughness."

Three seniors are leading the Lady Vikes team this season: April Zicopolous, Devin McNelly, and Jessie Durnez.

"The girls look up to them," Walker said. "Their positive attitudes and the way they encourage players on and off the court has been huge to our success."

The three seniors have all been standout players this season. Another standout is junior Miranda Velazco, who plays libero and won a position on the all-tournament team at the Joseph City tournament.

"She is extremely important to our defense, and she's really stepped up this year," Walker said.

She added that each player has contributed to the team's success.

"They've each held their own and brought their own strengths to the court," Walker said. "And it's when we all at the same time are using those strengths that we are a pretty stinking good team."

The Lady Vikes take on Bagdad at home at 6 p.m. on Oct. 29, which is Senior Night. They close out the regular season Oct. 30 at an away game against Salt River.

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