PIMA — What could have easily been a 3-0 match turned into a fifth-game tiebreaker.

Pima took an early 2-0 lead, only to have Safford rally to tie. A 5-point rally in the final game became the deciding factor in securing the win for Pima, 26-24, 25-16, 17-25, 23-25, 15-11.

Pima head coach Keoni Bailado said, “It was hard to play consistent. We played so well in the first two, not too many errors, and then slowly added errors onto our side, which definitely hurt. I think that was the biggest game changer. We shot ourselves in the foot once in a while; and once in a while, Safford came out and were banging balls. It was a very good back and forth.”

Safford took an early lead in game one before Pima overtook on a 5-point rally. Safford battled back by scoring 2 to 3 points for every one of Pima’s before the game turned into a foot race for the final points with the fewest errors.

Pima’s defense, combined with too many volleys out of bounds on Safford’s part, made game two a decisive win for the Lady Roughriders.

Safford head coach Sheri Camarena said, “The girls did an awesome job tonight. Once we hit game three, they finally put it all together. The key to our team is we’ve got to hit every single time. If we’re hitting, we’re winning. We’re learning that. One of these days, we’ll put it all together. A comeback can always happen at any time. The girls are starting to come together. We’ll get it.”

Safford dug itself out of a hole in game three and knocked Pima off balance, drawing out errors and netting the Lady Bulldogs’ first win of the night with the help of an 8-point rally to push it to four. The Lady Bulldogs built off that moment, but not without Pima’s coming back twice before Safford went on a 5-point rally to help secure win number two.

Pima’s Aubree Sherwood said, “It was fun and I’m really glad that we won, and it was a really good game. The #SaveSkyler really got us in the mood to play with everything we had.”

Pima took an 8-3 lead before Safford chipped away at the deficit and both teams entered double digits. There was one call in Pima’s favor that had Safford fans booing and the net ref flashing a yellow card. The final points became a game of errors that the Lady Roughriders overcame.

Safford (0-1 conference, 0-3 overall) played Tanque Verde on Sept. 13 and will play Florence on Sept. 17. Safford hosts Amphitheater on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m.

Pima (0-0 conference, 1-1 overall) played Benson on Sept. 17 and heads to Morenci on Sept. 19 for a match at 6 p.m.

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