GC VILLAGE — The Grand Canyon High School volleyball team got off to a good start in region action last week by winning three of its first four matches.
The Lady Phantoms split with Fredonia on Friday before heading to Peach Springs and sweeping a pair from Music Mountain.
The team’s 3-1 record puts Grand Canyon in a three-way tie for third place with Ash Fork behind unbeatens St. Michael and Joseph City. Ash Fork will play at Grand Canyon late in the season.
Coach Matt Yost was pleased to see his team get off to a good start in the conference. But it was not easy.
After making the long trip to Fredonia, the Lady Phantoms won the first match 15-7, 15-9 and appeared to be the better team. But in the second match, the Lady Lynx came back to take a 15-9, 15-9 win.
"Our hitting game kind of let us go," Yost said about the second match. "That trip takes a lot out of you. I don’t think we got ourselves set and ready to play."
Grand Canyon had problems at the service line in the loss. The Phantoms had only two aces against Fredonia in the second match. Yost said other types of unforced errors also added up to the setback.
"Unfortunately, that carried over to the game against Music Mountain," Yost said.
Grand Canyon went to three games to defeat Music Mountain, 15-4, 12-15, 15-13, in another matchup on the road.
In the third and deciding game of the match, Music Mountain shot out to a 5-0 lead. The Phantoms countered to tie it up and there were several lead changes the rest of the way.
"It was a hard-fought game for us," Yost said. "It was good for the girls to see that they don’t have to play tight when it’s a close match. They know they can rally."
The offense was inconsistent at times and Grand Canyon eventually fell behind 13-11. The Phantoms scored the final four points for the first-match win behind the serving of Michele Mickelson.
"Michele Mickelson pulled out four beautiful serves to end the game," Yost said. "It seems like Michele took over."
Between matches, Yost talked to the team about not letting the opponent get under their skin and if things did go wrong then they need to "shake it off."
In the second match, the Phantoms played better and won 15-5, 15-10. Grand Canyon’s regulars — Kara Foo, Cally Foo, Illanda Bitsui and Mickelson — were joined by Samantha Stickler in the front row and Nikki Harvey in the back row. Adrianne Keebahe and Tiffany Monroe also saw action vs. Music Mountain on a rotation basis.
The coach commended Monroe’s good blocks and Stickler’s improved play. He also said there was accurate serving by Keebahe and Harvey. Newcomer Rose Spoehr got her first-ever kill in her first season of volleyball. The Foo sisters fought hard, Yost added, while Bitsui methodically did what she was supposed to do.
Grand Canyon (3-1, 4-7) was scheduled to host Williams Tuesday in matches after deadline. The Phantoms head to the Joseph City Tournament Saturday.
In junior-varsity action, Fredonia downed Grand Canyon 15-6, 15-12. The Phantoms did not play JV matches vs. Music Mountain.