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Lady Monsters Drop Home Opener

THATCHER — In front of one of the biggest Guitteau Gymnasium crowds in recent memory, the Gila Monsters came up just short. Pima Community College defeated Eastern Arizona College, 3-2, in the home opener Wednesday.

“We didn’t finish and hit a lot out of bounds.” Eastern coach Shari Kay said. “They (Eastern) played hard, but some were out of position because Jandra (Fabian) was out.” The Gila Monsters had a two-games-to-one lead behind the hitting of Shiann White and looked like they were on the way to a match victory. But Pima took the final two games, including a fifth game that went down to the wire, 15-12.

“I think this team is going to do some amazing things,” White said. “We’re young, but we learn fast.”

Eastern found itself down early in the first game but came back after a time out. White got hot from the outside and had three kills in a row, followed by one from Chelzi-Kristina Ulu, en route to a 25-18 win. Game two was a knuckle-biter, going back and forth until Pima pulled out the win, 27-25.

Eastern refocused and came out firing in game three. Pima’s defense seemed to be confused as Eastern distributed the ball around the court. Evalani Toledo came up with some big outside shots to lead Eastern to a 25-13 win. Game four was knotted at 17-17 before Pima pulled away for the win, setting up the decisive fifth game.

The night was special, with five players from Thatcher and Safford high schools playing on the two teams. White, in her sophomore year, Analyse Angle and Britny Beals played for EAC, while Safford’s Miranda Bingham and Thatcher’s Brooklyn Scarborough played for Pima. “It felt great,” Bingham said. “And it felt even better to win it.”

Eastern is on the road to Blinn, Texas, for the Blinn Invitational Tournament this weekend. EAC will face a number of nationally ranked teams, including the top-ranked team in the country.

Story written by Jay David Murphy, Sports Editor

Eastern Arizona Courier