Eagles win big over Panthers on Senior Night
On a night where both teams celebrated their seniors, emotions were running high for this cross-town rivalry game. Despite the Coconino Panthers girls’ volleyball team scoring first in three of the four sets, they ended up losing in four to the Flagstaff High School Eagles.
“Anytime you play Coconino, you never know what is going to happen,” said Eagles’ coach Beth Haglin. “These games scare me more than anything because of the emotions involved with the rivalry.”
The match began with both teams starting their seniors, a way of honoring their four years of dedication to the program. The Panthers scored first, but the Eagles rebounded with force, jumping to a 13–8 lead. The two veteran teams battled it out until the Eagles broke away, winning the set 25–19.
“We let it all go in the beginning,” said Eagles senior hitter Cortney Haglin. “At the end . . . [we] had to pull it all together to get the win.”
Coconino was first on the scoreboard again in the second set, and after going down 6–2, the Panthers came roaring back tying the game at eight apiece.
The set came down to the wire when the Eagles overtook the Panthers with a big spike by senior outside blocker Christian Otzen, making the score 22–21. The Panthers went on a 5–3 run to end the frame 26–24.
“We just eliminated our errors,” said Panthers coach Angela Vargas. “Simply put, the team with the fewer errors wins.”
However, eliminating their errors was not something they could sustain.
The Eagles came out in the third set with something to prove and soared to a 5–0 start. The unforced errors on the Panthers’ side of the court were evident as they let their rivals gain the early lead.
“We just started off too slow,” Vargas said. “We started off creating our own errors, and it just snowballed from there.”
The Eagles never gave the Panthers a chance to get back in the game, leading the third stanza 17–3. Flagstaff won the set 25–11.
“That was big,” Haglin said, after spiking down the winning point of the frame. “They had momentum so we knew we had to win that game.”
If the Panthers did have any momentum left, it was gone by the end of the fourth set when the Eagles won 25–16, sealing their match victory.
“Despite the second game, I knew we would get them,” coach Haglin said. “My girls play really well.”