CASA GRANDE — After being swept by one of the top teams in the 4A Conference, American Leadership Academy — Queen Creek, last week; Vista Grande was looking for a win against Goodyear Desert Edge on Tuesday.

The Spartans battled in the first two sets but fell to the Scorpions 3-1 by scores of 25-20, 25-27, 25-18 and 25-12.

Both teams and their fans crammed into the practice gym at Vista Grande, as the main gym’s hardwood flooring is being repaired after it was damaged by the rain brought by the monsoon storms.

Vista Grande (1-4) was without senior setter in Kareina Ayala, which left junior Suzett Martinez to handle the full workload.

According to head coach Ateliano Tuiteleleapaga, Martinez seemed overwhelmed at times and the fact that she’s not accustomed to setting up all the outside hitters on the team also contributed to her uneasiness on the court.

“The girls played well but what we’re running into is the mental part of the game,” Tuiteleleapaga said. “We have very good skills, the girls are playing hard but they need to put it together with the mental aspect of the game. It’s difficult to run a 5-1 with one setter all the way around. I was trying to encourage her and have her think that it was just practice and not worry about who was over there.”

But even when the team struggled on the offensive end, the defense shined bright at the middle blocker position with Jayla Scott and Mya Tapia.

Scott who is impressive with a basketball is equally as impressive getting high over the volleyball net and blocking opponents shots. She was virtually in a league of her own on Tuesday as she would be high over the net and quickly slammed the ball back down outside of the Scorpions reach before the front line even had time to react.

The Spartans struggled to find their rhythm in the first set and couldn’t get down a solid run. That wasn’t the case in the second set as they put up four consecutive points when Brooklynn Soderling was serving as she delivered two aces and gave Vista Grande a 12-10 lead.

It was late in the set when Desert Edge (1-4) took a 24-21 lead after trailing by two points.

Vista Grande managed to come tie things up at 24 and ultimately won after set after Desert Edge was unable to get a point and gave the ball back to the Spartans.

“Everyone was clicking,” Tuiteleleapaga said. “Everybody was doing what they were supposed to. It seemed that when we start losing points, the girls go off one their own and play as individuals. When you play like individuals it’s hard to build that chemistry.”

The Spartans struggled in the third set as Tuiteleleapaga called a time out when his team was trailing 12-2. Whatever he said to the girls worked because they would get the ball back on the next possession and then would put up six rally points with Tapia serving the ball.

“All the sets we started, we started off already in a hole and it’s hard to crawl out of it,” Tuiteleleapaga said. “When we finally came back I think we were a little over confident in the third set.”

The only time Vista Grande managed to get more than one point in the fourth set was when Martinez delivered a serve that just skimmed over the top of the net and hit the ground for an ace. The Spartans got a rally point on the next possession but they still trailed 11-19.

Desert Edge then went on a 4-0 run to essentially clinch the match.


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