(Geronimo) – Navarro overcame an abysmal start to Tuesday’s regular season finale against the second-ranked 4A volleyball team in the state to outlast La Vernia in five sets and claim a share of the District 27-4A championship at the Navarro Events Center in Geronimo.
The Panthers dropped the first set 25-12, but rebounded to edge the Bears in the second 25-21 and dominate the third 25-14.
La Vernia recovered from a 21-17 deficit in the fourth set with six straight points as part of a game-closing 8-1 run to stave off elimination with a 25-22 win.
The fifth and deciding game was tied at 9-9, but Navarro used a 5-1 run to build a 14-10 lead and hold off the Bears’ final rally to win 15-13.
Navarro head coach Nicole Blakeman says a rotation adjustment and better anticipation of La Vernia’s attack at the net enabled her team to turn the match’s momentum after the lopsided loss in the first set.
“We were trying to adjust to hide one of our weaknesses (in game one), but that didn’t really work,” Blakeman said. “They were much more comfortable in our normal rotation, and so we went back to our normal rotation. They started to read the hitters better, so that was a definite positive.”
Hailey Weidenfeller turned in a dominant performance at the net. The senior middle blocker led the offensive attack with a team-high 18 kills and disrupted La Vernia’s hitters with five block-assists and one solo block.
“She’s been doing a really good job lately, and so I’m really making sure that she’s in there quick, so she can be an offensive threat, and she had some pretty monster blocks,” Blakeman said of Weidenfeller.
Peyton Roach was an offensive force as well with 17 kills, Allie Benner added 12, and Kelly Helms finished with 10.
Bailey Wozniak distributed the ball to Navarro’s hitters for 54 assists. Sydney Sahd paced the defensive effort with 33 digs, Roach came up with 16, and Carolyn Burch chipped in with 14.
Navarro (34-5) and La Vernia (36-4) are both 7-1 in district play and split their head-to-head meetings. Prior to Tuesday’s match, the Bears had just jumped a spot from No. 3 to No. 2 in this week’s TGCA 4A state poll, while the Panthers moved up from No. 12 to No. 11.
Navarro and La Vernia will square off again in a neutral-site tiebreak match to determine playoff seeding on Friday at 6 p.m. at Wagner High School in San Antonio.