Lady Phantoms open season<br>in tough Joseph City tourney

The Grand Canyon High School volleyball team opened the season Friday and Saturday by winning one of six matches at the annual Joseph City Tournament. Even though the team won just once, the Lady Phantoms proved to be competitive in all the matches.

“We were pretty beat when we played that last game,” GCHS coach Matt Yost said. The team played four matches on the second day alone, playing through 379 points on Saturday under the new rally scoring rules. “It was a long drawn-out day but the kids were good about it. We tried to get in as much playing time as possible for everybody.”

The Lady Phantoms opened the tournament Friday with a close loss to Valley, a Class 3A school out of Sanders. The Pirates took a win of 25-23, 20-25, 7-5. The third game was stopped after the first team reached seven points.

Grand Canyon struggled with its serve in the loss to Valley, especially in the deciding third game. In rally scoring, a serve into the net means a point for the opponent.

The Lady Phantoms then dropped a 25-18, 25-14 match to St. Michael to end the first day. The team came out of the first day with an injured Nikki Harvey. Yost said he does not know the seriousness of the injury. Harvey had problems with the same knee last year.

On Saturday, Grand Canyon opened with a setback to nemesis Joseph City. The home-team and four-time defending state champion Wildcats took a 25-17, 25-15 win. Then after a layoff into the early afternoon, Grand Canyon came out and beat Ash Fork, 25-22, 25-15.

The Lady Phantoms ended the tournament with back-to-back matchups with Fredonia. The Lady Lynx downed Grand Canyon, 17-25, 26-24, 15-9 in the first match. Because the consolation side of the bracket was double-elimination, the two teams ended up playing again. Fredonia took the second match, 25-23, 25-21.

“Sam (Stickler) by far had the most kills for us,” Yost said of the tournament. “Sam got the chance to work around (through the rotation). I didn’t sub her out and she did well with that. Some teams tried to aim for her in the back row but that hurt them, not us.”

Yost said Tiffany Monroe played strong at middle hitter. The coach used two pairs of setters in the tournament, alternating them in and out.

“We came up with a lot of things we need to go over in practice,” Yost said. “It was our first time together with refs, new scoring, all the changes. Some other teams had been playing for one or two weeks already.”

Grand Canyon (1-5) will play back-to-back home matches on Friday and Saturday. St. Michael will visit Friday at 2 p.m. A junior-varsity match will be sandwiched between the varsity doubleheader.

The Phantoms will also play a doubleheader at home Saturday at 2 p.m., against Flagstaff Northland Prep. There will be no JV matches.

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