KINGMAN – Some fans in the stands may not have known it, but Thursday night was a historic one for the Lee Williams High School volleyball team. Not only did the Lady Vols improve to 2-0 in the 4A Grand Canyon Region for the first time ever, but their 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-18, 25-22) of Coconino was the first win over the Lady Panthers in program history.
“It’s a great memory – we’ll definitely cherish this,” said Lee Williams senior Ashley Sahawneh. “We’ll always be able to say we’re the team that was the first to beat Coconino in all of volleyball history at Lee Williams.”
In a span of three days, the Lady Vols (4-0, 2-0 4A Grand Canyon Region) beat Mohave for the first time since 2016 with a 3-0 sweep and then topped it with a dominant effort against the Lady Panthers (1-3, 0-1) in front of a packed crowd at LWHS.
“We had a lot of energy and that’s what kept us going,” Sahawneh said. “We have a lot of trust in each other too. So that really helps the team.”
The Lady Vols’ trust was instrumental in the third set as Coconino jumped out to an 8-4 advantage and appeared to have shifted the momentum in its favor.
That didn’t happen though.
Instead, Lee Williams banded together and rallied back to within one, 8-7, before watching the deficit increase to 11-7. The Lady Vols once again battled and knotted it up at 11-11.
While the Lady Panthers kept it interesting down the stretch in a back-and-forth affair, Lee Williams found what it needed with four straight points to take a 23-19 lead it would never surrender en route to the fourth sweep of the season.
“The girls want to finish it,” said Lee Williams head coach Riley Blake. “They come in there and want to sweep it. They want three sets and that’s it. They don’t want to play any more than that."
The Lady Vols meant business from the opening set and showed it on the court with a hard-fought two-point win. It was a team effort too, as everyone chipped in and provided a spark in the historic win.
“Lorelei Fernandez really stepped it up and was aggressive tonight, which I appreciate,” Blake said. “My libero Natalie Sanchez did phenomenal. I said right away, ‘They have some hitters, so we have to dig.’ She came out and did that for us. Ashley Sahawneh and Kalyse Whitehead were up there blocking. Really everybody did their job as best as they could.”
When Blake took over as head coach before this season, there was no guarantee Lee Williams would have this success after losing five seniors to graduation. But there was one person who believed in this group of Lady Vols from the first whistle.
“I had the utmost faith in these girls from the beginning – I saw the talent that they had,” Blake said. “I hoped for this, but they’re the ones that are going out and doing it. I’m just helping them figure out where they need to be out on the court and keep them pumped up. That’s really what I do, but they go out and they kill it every time.”