Lady Phantoms lose last four,<br>enter regionals as No. 5 seed

GC VILLAGE — The Grand Canyon High School volleyball team will try to put the last couple of weeks behind them and come out hitting in Friday’s Class 1A North Region tournament at St. Michael.

Grand Canyon's Nikki Harvey spikes the ball over an Ash Fork player in Friday afternoon's home finale.

The Lady Phantoms ended up with the No. 5 seed in the tournament and will play No. 4 seed Fredonia in the first round Friday morning. Grand Canyon and the Lady Lynx split a pair of matches back in September. Both finished with 6-8 records in the region.

"We’re only one step down from last year, which is phenomenal after losing Erin Wahler," Phantoms coach Matt Yost said. "We had a chance to take third. St. Michael’s is good but on a good day, we can play with them."

Grand Canyon did not have a good day Saturday in the regular-season finale at St. Michael. The home team Cardinals took victories of 15-0, 15-2 and 15-2, 15-3 to finish 12-2 in the region.

The Lady Phantoms played the tough St. Michael’s squad with a depleted starting lineup. Four of six starters did not make the trip with Illanda Bitsui and Samantha Stickler the only regulars available for action. To fill the holes, Yost had to use junior-varsity level players.

Grand Canyon had a chance to finish in third place if the girls could sweep a pair of matches from Ash Fork Friday. But the Lady Spartans were on top of their game and garnered victories of 15-10, 15-10 and 15-8, 15-5.

"We could’ve beaten Ash Fork, we decided we didn’t want to play," Yost said. "But understand we have four veteran players that have played and I need to mix in two freshmen at all times."

It’s that inexperience that seems to become visible in the big matches. Against Ash Fork, the Lady Phantoms experienced problems with basic fundamentals such as passing and serve reception.

The region tournament will include all eight teams, seeded from top to bottom based on regular-season standings. Joseph City and St. Michael figure to snag the top two spots but there will be three teams advancing to state out of the conference this year.

Ash Fork appears to have a good shot at the third playoff berth, but Fredonia and Grand Canyon should challenge.

In junior-varsity action last week, Ash Fork downed the Lady Phantoms 15-6, 15-9 and St. Michael defeated Grand Canyon, 15-6, 13-15, 15-8.

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