Volleyball Conquer in Exciting Five Set Match Against Yavapai College

It was all smiles Wednesday night at Theo Heap Gym as the Lady T-Birds defeated the Yavapai Roughriders in five sets.
It was all smiles Wednesday night at Theo Heap Gym as the Lady T-Birds defeated the Yavapai Roughriders in five sets.

Christina Pociask

The Lady T-Birds opened their season with a hard fought battle against last year's conference champions the Yavapai Rough Riders.  

They started off competing point for point with Yavapai while establishing a strong court presence for themselves.  

With a score of 17-21 the T-Birds showed all out effort on defense, extending the rallies, and pleasing the crowd.  

Unfortunately, a string of unforced errors early on caused the T-Birds to play catch up for the remainder of that first set allowing the Riders to win with a six point lead.  

Final score for set one was 19-25.  

 Strong leadership by the sophomores was felt in the gym during set two.  Once the T-Birds got their lead, they fought hard in every rally to keep it.  

Consecutive blocks by #8 Megan Block and #9 Leah Crist and then by #9 Leah Crist and #15 Raquel Valiere gave the team a lead with a score of 16-13 and the momentum to finish strong for the rest of the set.  

By the second half of set two, it was apparent the T-Birds had control of the match.  

Their tough serves and well executed defense allowed them to finish with the 6 point lead this time and win the set with a final score of 25-19.  

By set three the killer instinct demonstrated by the sophomores was definitely rubbing off on the freshman.  

With an ace and then a kill by freshman #4 Paige Greenly, the T-Birds temporarily broke their tie with the Riders.  

With unforced errors at a low and greats plays at a high, set three was certainly a nail biter.  

The T-Birds and the Riders fought continuously for that much desired lead, each taking turns with no more than two points over the other.  

With a score of 21-10, Mesa in the lead, Yavapai takes their first time out.  Fresh out of their huddle, the T-birds scored another point, leaving Yavapai Head Coach, Zachary Shaver, visibly on edge.  

An outstanding play by freshman #9 Leah Crist pushed the T-Birds further with their lead and a win for set three.  Final score was 25-21.  

If the T-birds had any nervous jitters at the start of the match, they were certainly gone by set four.  

The ladies looked calm, cool and collected.  But as the set progressed, Yavapai pulled ahead leaving Mesa with a 10 point deficit.  

Although the T-birds couldn't quite make a come back in set four, their determination was not lost.  

After losing set four with a final score of 16-25 the T-Birds decided to put it behind them and come out stronger than ever in set five. 

The T-Birds were in full control of the match at this point.  They were dominating set five, pushing the score to 4-1, when Shaver was forced to take a time out.  After the timeout, #8 Megan Block served even tougher.  From that point on the Riders never got back into their groove.  The chemistry between the T- Birds on the court was undeniable.  Solid passing and smart hitting put the T-Birds at match point.  Sophomore, Megan Block, killed the ball down the line, ricochetting off a defender and into the stands.  The T-Birds won set five 15-10 and their first match of the 2016 season.  First year Head Coach Megan Taylor was pleased with the ladies performance.  "It was a great way to start off season," said Taylor, "It really shows how hard these girls have been working since we started on day one".  Additionally, the T-Birds have been really responsive to Coach Taylor's coaching strategies.  "They're buying into what we're asking them to do... and they really dove into it head first," said Taylor.  The Thunderbirds will be back in action this Friday when they head to Scottsdale to play the Artichokes at 7 p.m.

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