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Aztec, Navajo Prep volleyball teams wrap up district titles

KIRTLAND − The regular season in high school volleyball comes to an end this weekend with several local and area teams vying for a berth in the state tournament.

Aztec wrapped up their 2022 regular season with a three games to one win on the road Thursday night over Kirtland Central, giving the Lady Tigers their first district title since 2016.

Meantime, the Navajo Prep Lady Eagles wrapped up their 10th straight win Thursday night, knocking off Newcomb three games to none to secure the District 1-3A title.

Here's a look at some of the action in the final days of the prep volleyball season across San Juan County.

AZTEC 3, Kirtland Central 1

The Aztec High School volleyball team completed the perfect district season Thursday night, beating Kirtland Central three games to one in front of a large crowd at Bronco Arena, stamping a seal on the Lady Tigers perfect district season and sending them into the state tournament.

Aztec won the opening set of the match 25-16 before the Lady Broncos evened the match with a 25-14 second set score. The Lady Tigers slipped away from Kirtland Central 25-12 in the third set before winning the fourth set by a score of 25-20, winning for the 15th consecutive time this season.

"I am so proud and excited for the girls," said Lady Tigers head coach Anna Strauss. "They've worked so hard to earn this honor."

Aztec had already secured the district title earlier in the week with a win over Gallup and came into Thursday's road test with a two-match lead over Kirtland Central. Ranked seventh in the state in Class 4A according to MaxPreps, the Lady Tigers finish the regular season with a record of 20-3 (10-0 District 1-4A) and will await word from the New Mexico Activities Association as to their seedings and opponent in the state volleyball tournament, which gets underway Thursday at the Rio Rancho Event Center.

"They are a special group and I believe that they can do something special at the state tournament," Strauss said.

The district title is the first for the Lady Tigers since 2016, and their 20-3 regular season mark is the best finish to a season in more than a decade. In their 10 wins over district rivals, Aztec dropped only three sets. The team's last loss occurred on Sept. 10 in a tournament match against Farmington.

NAVAJO PREP 3, Newcomb 0

Navajo Prep wrapped up the District 1-3A championship Thursday night at home, knocking off Newcomb three games to none as the Lady Eagles await to learn their seeding and opponent in next week's state tournament.

Navajo Prep earned the victory with scores of 25-12, 29-27 and 25-10 to earn the victory and a sweep of the Skyhawks this season. The Lady Eagles (16-7 overall, 11-1 District 1-3A) only loss during the district campaign came on Sept. 29 at home against Thoreau.

Ranked ninth in the state in Class 3A according to the most recent MaxPreps polls, Navajo Prep will move on to the NAA state tournament, which is set to begin Thursday at the Rio Rancho Event Center.

GALLUP 3, Shiprock 0

The Gallup High School volleyball team likely played themselves into the state tournament Thursday night, finishing off the regular season with a three-games-to-none sweep on the road over Shiprock.

The Lady Bengals won the match with scores of 25-21, 25-16 and 25-14 to win for the third time in their last four matches. The win ends Gallup's regular season with an overall record of 14-9 and a District 1-4A mark of 7-3, good for a tie for second place with Kirtland Central in the district standings.

Kirtland Central came into the week ranked 10th in the state in Class 4A according to MaxPreps, while Gallup was ranked 12th. The Lady Broncos lost to Aztec on Thursday in their regular season finale.

The NMAA will announce seedings and post brackets for the state tournament this weekend.