Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

Volleyball: Tuba City eliminated in state tournament semifinals

November 6, 2018 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

Tall and athletic No. 3 Northwest Christian Crusaders utilized its height and talent to post a 3-0 victory over the No. 2 Tuba City Lady Warriors in the 3A volleyball state tournament semifinals.

Northwest Christian won the three sets, 25-14, 25-15 and 25-13.

"They (Northwest Christian) had the height advantage," said Tuba City head coach Harlan Barlow. "They were physical. We did what we could. They were a great team."

Northwest Christian went on to win the state championship. The lost ended Tuba City's season at 28-5.

Barlow pointed out that junior middle hitter / outside hitter Jayda Chee played extremely well against Northwest Christian.

"Jayda (Chee) isn't 6-foot-3," Barlow said. "She stands at 5-foot-9. She did what she could to keep her team in the game. She slowed down the blocks, finding kills and digging in the back row and serving smart."

Barlow praised the work of Mikeya Sheppard's defensive effort.

"I feel like Mikeya (Sheppard) stepped up," he said. "She was all over the floor. They (Northwest Christian) were the best dig team, but she got them up."

In the first round of the state tournament, Tuba City defeated No. 15 Pusch Ridge of Tucson, 3-1. Tuba City won, 20-25, 25-19, 25-15 and 25-23.

"We had never seen Pusch Ridge at all," Barlow said. "We just looked at stats and prepared from there. We just expected a tough game. We had to be scrappy, consistent and had to play smart. Also to serve to get them out of system and for us to be scrappy."

Tuba City advanced into the state quarterfinal round. The Lady Warriors outlasted Tanque Verde, 3-1. Tuba City won the sets, 25-16, 22-25, 25-21 and 22-15.

"We never seen Tanque Verde this year," he said. "We saw them two years ago. We won in five sets. We figured they would come out tough. We just had to play our game .... play scrappy and consistent. We found our rhythm on defense, offense and even at the serving line. We kept them out of system and that helped us in their errors."

Barlow said Chee and Sheppard were phenomenal.

"Jayda and Mikeya kept the offensive tempo with Gracie Henderson and Jadan Sixkiller in the setting position," he said. "It was a team effort."

Barlow continued, "Our defense was scrappy with Tanque Verde. We dug a lot of their hits and converted them into offensive points."

The Tuba City head coach summed up the season saying, "We did extremely well. For the first time, we finished 10-0 in our region, 14-0 in conference and 16 regular season victories and 28-5 overall. We were conference champions and region tournament champions. We had the 3A North Region Player of the Year, Jayda Chee. I was named 3A North Region Coach of the Year. We had a Final Four finish. It was one of the best as far as record."

Tuba City loses three seniors, Krishauna Riggs, Kyra Slim and Brooke Tallsalt. The Lady Warriors return nine players next year, including four freshmen, two sophomores and three juniors.

"They saw the talent in the Final Four and inspired them to plan on working hard this off-season," Barlow said.