Middle school volleyball off to strong start

Though they got a late start on practice, with only two days to prepare for their first games, the Lady Phantoms middle school A and B volleyball teams held their own last Saturday against well-rehearsed performances by Ash Fork and Williams.

"They looked surprisingly good," said Head Coach Jim Baum. "For having just two days of practice, we were up against teams that had two weeks of practice."

Though the only win was the second match game that the A team played with Williams, most were decided within a handful of points and Grand Canyon's girls were in each game until the final serve.

"They were hanging right there the whole time," Baum said. "A little more finesse on the court and I think we're going to have it down, for both the A and the B team. They both played together very well."

In A team play against Ash Fork, the Canyon lost with final scores of 25-23, 25-23, while they forced Williams to three games with finals of 25-23, 25-21 (Canyon win) and 15-9.

The B team fell to Ash Fork 25-16 and 25-18 and fared better against Williams posting finals of 25-23 and 25-20.

"I'm really happy," Baum said. "I'm proud of them. They were great ­ very energetic, very aggressive. We got some good hits off the A team which was really good, some good sets, some good passing."

Standout players included Madison Berry, who had at least 11 aces and four kills and Savannah McBroom-Sweeney, whose passing, said Baum, "was right on for what I'm looking for at this level. She had a lot of good passes."

He praised Hayley Ingols' performance at the net and the B team's Josie Araiza for the way she covered the court and set the ball.

He also noted that Kelsey Wren, Chrystal Robinson, Brandi Gomez and Cassidy Schoblom all showed good, instinctive form on the court.

To get them ready for last weekend, Baum said he focused on passing and serving.

"Those are the two biggest things at this level," he said.

As he prepares for what he believes will be a solid and enjoyable season, he is already looking forward to next fall when he coaches high school.

"I'm really excited about the A team going up to JV next year," he said. "The girls next year need to pay attention or some of these girls will come up and grab their positions."

Next Saturday, the girls play in Ash Fork.

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