AJHS Volleyball Success Continues

Lady Prospectors Rack Up Wins Over Coronado, Combs

By Daniel Dullum

San Tan Valley Combs has been tough on Apache Junction as their neighborhood volleyball rivalry has developed over the last few seasons. On Oct. 5, it was the Lady Prospectors’ turn to celebrate.

The Lady Prospectors prevailed 25-7, 25-18, 25-9.

“It was really nice,” AJ defensive specialist Jessica Sigler said. “We’ve had really tough games with them the last couple of years and it’s been really hard. But beating them that hard was really nice.”

AJ improved to 20-18 overall, first place in the Black Canyon Region at 6-1, and is ranked No. 28 in the AIA 4A power poll. The Lady Prospectors have won five consecutive matches.

“This has been great,” Sigler said. “Maybe we’ll get our first volleyball banner in our gym. That would be amazing. I know there’s a banner for girls soccer from my sophomore year, and having one for my senior year of volleyball would be absolutely amazing.”

A year ago, late season losses to Combs knocked the Lady Prospectors out of the playoff race.

“We had struggles with this team last year, so we wanted to make sure we stayed really focused,” AJ Coach Jake Heermans said. “We tried a few new little wrinkles for the match, and they apparently seemed to work, so we’ll probably keep doing those.”

A big key to the Lady Prospectors’ success has been serving and serve/receive. Setter Lucia Kimble fired seven service aces at the Coyotes, as did libero Morgan Farsolas. Haley Loftis had five aces, with one each by Sigler and Maegan Smith.

AJ returned 19 serves, with only one error.

“I’m not going to change our philosophy about serving,” Heermans said. “It will always have to be a weapon for us.

“Serve/receive is starting to come along. We work on it every single practice, probably more than anything else. It’s good to see it pay off.”

The Lady Prospectors’ youthful front row continues to show improvement. Mady Roach led AJ with six kills, Loftis and Brooke Gordon had four each, Farsolas and Emily Reynolds had three each. Kimble collected 17 assists.

“We talk a lot about smart hits, when the set is off and what do we do, when the set is there, what do we do,” Heermans said. “We’ve been trying to drill that in their heads, and with experience, that will definitely get better.”

Combs, with first-year coach Loreen Reaves, is going through a partial rebuild while adjusting to a new system. The Coyotes are 4-11 overall, 3-2 in the region.

“For us, it’s not so much about the rivalry, we’re trying to play our own game,” Coyotes Coach Loreen Reaves said. “We’re trying to work on the things we need to work on and what we’ve worked on in practice, then transition it to the court.

“It’s difficult, but we’re trying our best and we’ll keep trying to move forward.”

AJ vs. CORONADO
The Lady Prospectors traveled to Scottsdale on Oct. 3 and earned a four-game win over Coronado 25-20, 19-25, 25-17, 25-12. AJ leaders: Brooke Gordon, 9 kills; Mady Roach 7 kills; Morgan Farsolas, 13 aces, 10 digs; Haley Loftis 4 blocks; Lucia Kimble 20 assists, 4 aces.

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