Ariz. volleyball championships

Focus, teamwork, fun add up to state title for MV

By Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi
Navajo Times

PRESCOTT, Ariz., Nov. 11, 2010

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(Courtesy photo - Eugene Begay)

A Monument Valley player hits the ball during the Arizona 3A state volleyball tournament Nov. 6 in Prescott Valley, Ariz.

Everything started four years ago for the Monument Valley volleyball team.

The undefeated records, regional titles and the last three state championships, including the one last weekend, all started with the class of 2011.

"The class of 2011 said, yes, we're going to play collective volleyball. Yes, we're going to practice everyday, raise money so that we can go to things during the summer and it wasn't just a one-year thing led by the seniors," Monument Valley coach Lucinda Nash said. "Monument Valley's done a very good job for many years."

As freshmen, the team made it to the state championship with the No. 1 seed but fell to Parker in five games. As sophomores they were seeded No. 1 again and won their first state title when they defeated Safford in three games. As juniors they were seeded No. 1 and defeated Tuba City in four games. This year they defeated Window Rock in three games for their third straight title.

After the first year the Lady Mustangs got to used to the idea of being No. 1 but also learned to not to be over confident. To Nash, that was key to their success.

"I think we knew (losing) was a possibility because you can't take things for granted," she said. "You have to play first."

That's exactly what Monument Valley did, first defeating Parker in three games, then Fountain Hills in three games. But they got a scare with Snowflake whom they eventually defeated in four games. Finally, they defeated Window Rock in three games for the state title.

Nash said it wasn't the best season in terms of the team playing to their best ability but they worked hard.

"We were moving forward but there were games we were making silly mistakes," Nash said. "But we were progressing in the drills when we were at the state tournament. McKara Kescoli played a great game and she hadn't been doing well this season. Nicole Laughter hit better than I'd ever seen her play. That's the way to go out."

And the unstoppable Bradley Nash was her same hard-hitting self.

Kescoli, Ty'Lesha Yellowhair, Iesha Atene, Laughter, Chantel Luna, Kristen Evans and Jontae Yazzie, all seniors, got the job done the two days the team played.

Bradley Nash, a senior, said the team never let their guard down at anytime during the four years they played, but even more so during the state tournament this year.

"I think we were always pretty aware that anything could happen," she said. "A group of teams played before us. Florence was supposed to be a favorite and they lost in the first round, so it's just kind of a wakeup call."

Bradley Nash said the team's progress started way before four years ago.

"We've always been pretty much playing with each other since, like, middle school," she said, adding that the winning never gets old. "We had the undefeated record. It just kind of hits you, like, oh, I'm done, I don't have any more high school volleyball."

Bradley Nash, who will sign a letter of intent to play volleyball at New Mexico State University later this week, said spectators often forget the hard work put into the game.

"I don't think people realized how much we actually do put in into what we do and how much we really genuinely love it," she said. "A lot of us were upset it was over because it's over - we just really love it. We play during lunch, all school year pretty much, after school, it's just a real love for the game."

As for Lucinda Nash, who watched the last of her six children win a state volleyball championship, she said she hasn't thought of any future plans just yet.

She said the season is far from over as things still need to get done.

But whatever she decides she will always remember what makes Monument Valley volleyball what it is.

"We can be laughing and smiling but we'll still be working really hard," she said. "That's kind of the personality of Monument Valley. People say, oh, they don't take things seriously. But we found a way to play real hard and still have fun."

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