CASA GRANDE — The past few weeks has been a see-saw ride for the Vista Grande volleyball team.

On Tuesday the Spartans hosted fellow Pinal County foe in Apache Junction and got themselves back in the win column by sweeping the Prospectors in three sets: 25-16, 25-17 and 25-21.

Vista Grande (6-8) is currently ranked No. 34 in the 4A Conference, while the Prospectors (7-7) are sitting on the bubble at No. 25.

“We’re just trying to find the right combination, the right six to put on the court at any given time,” Apache Junction coach Sam Valencia said. “People struggle here and there, so just trying to find one that’s been consistent, that’s been our biggest thing; we haven’t had a lot of consistency.”

Apache Junction began the third set with a 5-0 lead and forced the Spartans to call a timeout.

Whatever Vista Grande head coach Ateliano Tuiteleleapaga told his team must have stuck because outside hitter Maria Toledo got the Spartans on the board.

“I’m very happy with the progress of the kids,” Tuiteleleapaga said. “I feel like our record does not justify the performance that our kids have put in and the progress that they have made.”

Toledo went back to serve and helped her team tie the set at five before a service error gave the ball back to Apache Junction.

The Prospectors built a small lead behind kills from Allie Pride and Erin Smiley to make it a 16-12 game.

Tara Klein added another point for Apache Junction before Brooklynn Soderling got the kill for Vista Grande.

“We have to have more mental focus,” Valencia said. “Tonight, that’s what we lacked. We work on the things we need to work on in practice but we don’t transition them well enough to games right now. We have to be better, I have to be better to get them prepared for anything that happens during the game.”

Mya Tapia served the ball and cut the Spartans deficit to 17-15 after the Prospectors misplayed the ball.

Jayla Scott got a big block on the next rally to make it a one point game before Bailey Furrow tipped the ball over on the following rally, allowing Apache Junction to keep a slim lead.

A service error by Ciara Anderson gave the ball back to Vista Grande and a defensive error by the Prospectors allowed the Spartans to tied the game at 18.

Scott gave Vista Grande the lead on a point off of two Apache Junction blockers and Kareina Ayala followed with an ace, which forced the Prospectors to call a timeout.

“Everybody was clicking tonight,” Tuiteleleapaga said. “Tonight they were all on top of it. It got a little bit tight but they stuck with it and we succeeded.”

Pride made it a 19-20 game as her hit bounced off Scott and hit the ground, but Scott bounced right back and got the kill on the next play to give Vista Grande a 21-19 lead.

“One of the biggest things I tell them is you cannot worry too much about what’s already behind you, you can only handle what’s ahead of you,” Tuiteleleapaga said. “I was like don’t worry about it, we’re down, we’ve been here before now let’s keep on doing what we’ve been practicing and they clawed back up.”

A Soderling ace and another kill from Scott, extended the Spartans lead by four before Apache Junction got a rally point.

Vista Grande briefly regained possession of the ball as Toledo got a kill but a service error by Scott gave the ball back to the Prospectors.

The match ended on a service error by Smiley.

“I think throughout the whole game we lack a lot of energy,” Valencia said. “They get down on themselves very quickly and very easily, so it’s very hard to dig yourself out of that hole once you’re in it.”

Vista Grande began the second set with a 4-0 run and never trailed. The Spartans also led for most of the first set, expect during a brief Apache Junction run when Tajayah Hooks got a block to give the Prospectors a 11-10 lead.

The Spartans tied the game with a rally point but a kill by Addison Cooksey and a tip by Megan Gossman extended the led. A service error by Cooksey gave the ball back to Vista Grande and a Scott kill to the back corner tied the game at 13.

Apache Junction hit the ball out of bounds during the next rally and a Toledo kill put Vista Grande back in the driver’s seat for the rest of the set.


Maria Vasquez is the Sports Editor for PinalCentral. She can be reached at

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