Navarro's first-year head coach Nicole Blakeman (right) talks strategy during a timeout in Tuesday's season opener.
(Geronimo) - The Navarro volleyball team treated first-year head coach Nicole Blakeman to an impressive victory in her first match on the Panthers' sideline, sweeping 6A opponent Round Rock-McNeil in three sets Tuesday afternoon at the Navarro Events Center.
Navarro controlled the first game 25-15, but had to rally from a 20-15 deficit to survive the second, 27-25, and stave off McNeil's comeback from a 23-18 hole to win the third, 28-26.
Blakeman, who left San Antonio-Johnson after nine seasons to take the Navarro job in the wake of Phyllis Fowler's retirement, enjoyed watching her new team find a way to grind out close wins in the final two sets.
"I was excited to see it, because honestly, that's the first game that we played," Blakeman said. "We've had scrimmages, but that was the first game, so it was exciting to see that they can actually have the poise to actually make it through and actually pull out the win."
Peyton Roach put away 14 kills to lead Navarro's offensive attack. Hailey Weidenfeller added eight kills and two blocks. Bailey Wozniak set for 27 assists. Carolyn Burch sent three aces over the net, while Roach and Sydney Sahd had two apiece.
Sahd collected a team-high 24 digs to spark the defensive effort, and Roach also reached double figures with 10.
Bailey Wozniak (4) sets up Hailey Weidenfeller (6) for a hit while Maddy Murphy (3) looks on during the first set of Navarro's win over McNeil.
Overall, Blakeman says her team is adapting well to the new schemes she installed in the first week of practice.
"I brought in a different defense, and they've been adjusting very well," the coach said. "They have relentless pursuit. They're going to go get that ball no matter what, and we just need to keep that up. They're working well together, they're hustling, and I couldn't be happier."
Navarro (1-0) competes in the San Antonio-Wagner tournament today through Saturday.