The Grand Canyon High School volleyball team finally got its season started last weekend with an overnight road trip to Mayer and Phoenix.
After nearly a month of practice, the Lady Phantoms had a chance to see actual competition on Friday with a pair at Mayer. Although listed as 1 p.m., on the schedule with a junior-varsity match, the action didn’t begin until 4:30 p.m., with Mayer playing its varsity in both matches.
Grand Canyon played its varsity team against the Wildcats in the first match. Mayer took a 15-7, 10-15, 15-7 win.
"It was good to see competition, we’ve been practicing hard with a large group of girls trying to fit in that space in the gym," GCHS coach Matt Yost said, adding that assistants Jessica Olsen and Sally Wahler have been working with smaller groups of girls on various fundamentals to help in practice. "We had the first-game jitters, but it gave us an idea of what we need to work on."
Melissa Monroe, who made the all-tournament team, and Cally Foo scored the majority of the team’s points from the service line.
The Phantoms followed with its JV team against the Mayer varsity. The Wildcats took a 15-4, 15-0 victory. But after coming all that way, Yost wanted to give the young girls some playing time.
"They hustled, they made young mistakes, but they really gave it their all," Yost said. "That was good to see when playing a varsity team."
The team then headed down to the Valley for the Phoenix Country Day School Tournament. In pool play, Grand Canyon lost two of three matches. Green Fields downed the Phantoms in the opener, 15-13, 13-15, 15-13.
"It was rally scoring, so the games went pretty quick," Yost said of the tournament. "I really wanted to find out some things so I made more substitutions than usual. It gave a lot of people chances to work in the back row."
Yost said Kara and Cally Foo set well in the tournament, Monroe had some good hits and Samantha Stickler some nice blocks on the net. Yost also lauded the serving efforts of Michelle Harvey and Jenna Diaz-Gonzalez, who had some good jump serves.
In the second match, Bourgade Catholic took a 15-10, 15-6 win over Grand Canyon. The Phantoms struggled from the service line in the match, which is only magnified using rally scoring.
The team did rebound to finish the morning with a 15-17, 15-4, 15-12 win over Mayer, the team it had lost to the previous day.
"That was the highlight of the morning," Yost said. "We played much better this game. This is when Jenna came in and did a great job of serving. Michelle did the same thing. That was really nice to see."
The team took that confidence and carried it over into the consolation round at matches to be played at Scottsdale Christian. The Phantoms were matched up against 1A North Region rival Seligman.
Grand Canyon posted a 15-8, 15-17, 15-11 victory to down the Antelopes.
"We won, we finally beat them," Yost said. "Once we did that, we were in the consolation round finals."
The only problem was, the tournament was running behind schedule and the team had to wait five hours before playing the last match. After lunch, doing math homework and watching other teams play, Grand Canyon took the floor against Higley.
Now using regular scoring in the final, Higley took a 15-8, 15-2 victory.
"We started falling apart, we started standing still and expecting the other person to get the ball," Yost said. "Sam made some good blocks and Melissa had good line hits. Nikki’s (Harvey) serving was an asset."
Grand Canyon (2-4) had its next two matches cancelled because Music Mountain and Northland Prep are not fielding teams this year. The next match on the schedule is set for Sept. 28 at Sedona Red Rock. Action will begin at 1 p.m.