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Pima volleyball wins district championship, advances to program’s first NJCAA national tournament

Information for this report provided by Pima College media relations:

The Pima Community College volleyball team (3-7) won the NJCAA Division II South Central District Championship in Miami, Oklahoma on Saturday.

The Aztecs defeated Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in the fifth set tiebreaker 25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 13-25, 15-12 to advance to the program’s first ever NJCAA Division II National Tournament.

In the first set, the Aztecs scored seven of 10 points to take a 16-9 advantage. The Lady Norse closed the gap to two points at 20-18 but the Aztecs scored the next five out of six points to win.

The Aztecs held an early advantage in the second set, but Northeastern Oklahoma A&M cut it to a one-point deficit. A kill from sophomore Courtney Ely (Ironwood Ridge) and an ace from freshman Isabella Jacome helped the Aztecs gain a 13-9 lead. The Lady Norse cut into Pima’s lead again and made it 16-15, but the Aztecs scored two straight points and later took a 20-16 lead forcing Northeastern Oklahoma A&M to call a timeout. A kill from Andrea Vigil-German (Ironwood Ridge) put the Aztecs up 2-0 in the match. The Aztecs never surrendered the lead in the first two sets.

The third and forth sets went to the Lady Norse as the Aztecs struggled to gain the upper hand.

According to Pima volleyball coach Dan Bithell:

“We were lucky to generate a little momentum at the end of the 4th set. Northeastern Oklahoma found a different gear and put pressure on us and we didn’t respond well,”

The Aztecs trailed by as much as three points early in the tie-breaking fifth set, but rallied back to take a 9-8 lead after a kill by sophomore Holly Stutz (Cienega). The Aztecs trailed again at 11-9 but scored four straight points capped off by a kill from freshman Haley Duncan (Walden Grove) to go up 13-11. The Lady Norse scored the next point but two straight kills by freshman Andrea Vigil-German sealed the win for Pima.

According to Pima sophomore outside hitter Bergen Campbell:

“We wanted to win it for each other and for Dan (Bithell).”We wanted to leave it all out there and it worked out very successful for us.”

Vigil-German finished with 20 kills, 11 digs and four blocks. Campbell had 13 kills and 15 digs while Duncan posted seven kills and eight blocks. Sophomore Aydalis Felix (Rincon) finished with 33 digs, and freshman Karla Soto (Nogales) had 46 assists, 11 digs and two aces. Ely had 11 kills, 20 digs and four blocks.

“I’m proud of all our kids, we preached that it takes all 13 of us,”Bithell said.

“Our sophomores really found a different way to lead us this weekend. Having that experience and ability to motivate us and push us in the right direction, it was necessary this weekend,” said Bithell.

“It showed at a different level in critical moments.”

The Aztecs will play in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament at the Alliant Energy Powerhouse Arena in Cedar Rapids, IA on April 13-15.

The tournament brackets will be released on Monday at 6:00 p.m. (ET); 3:00 p.m. (MST).    

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood.  He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.

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