Piedra Vista’s Samantha Sofka (8) hits the ball past St. Pius X’s Julianna Zamora and Emily Burford in the Piedra Vista Invite Volleyball
Piedra Vista's Samantha Sofka (8) hits the ball past St. Pius X's Julianna Zamora and Emily Burford in the Piedra Vista Invite Volleyball Tournament on Sept. 14 at Piedra Vista High School in Farmington. (The Daily Times file photo)

FARMINGTON  One month after the conclusion of the high school volleyball season, players and coaches found out who made all-state teams.

Two of Piedra Vista's stars, Samantha Sofka and Vanessa Harris, were named to the first team of the New Mexico High School Coaches Association All-State Team. Sofka picked up the biggest honor of all: she was named the Class 4A Player of the Year.

"It feels great, and it is a really exciting honor. I couldn't (have) done it without the team and coaches I had," Sofka said. "I was laying in bed when I found out. My dad hollered into my room, and I got a call from coach (Ron) Becker the next day. When he told me I was the 4A Player of the Year, I was in shock."

Sofka is the first Lady Panther player to win the Player of the Year honor on her own. Katie Hegarty was named a Co-Player of the Year in 2012 for PV, along with a St. Pius X player.

Sofka earned the honorable mention her sophomore year and was named to the second team as a junior. PV head coach Ron Becker was pleased to see her be recognized after helping lead the Lady Panthers to a 21-3 season, even though it ended with a loss in the state championship match to Goddard High.

"I am really impressed because typically that award goes to someone on the state championship winning team. It is the first time since I have coached that it hasn't gone to someone on the winning team," Becker said. "I am proud of Sam, and that is a huge accomplishment. It is a testament to her hard work."

Sofka was named to the first team as an outside hitter. Although she didn't have the height of many elite hitters, she more than made up for that with her vertical jumping ability.

"She doesn't have the size, but she makes up for it with jumping and playing with a ton of heart," Becker said.

Harris was named as a first-team setter in just her junior season. Becker hopes her leadership can help the team get back to the state title game in 2014 for a third consecutive year.

Farmington High School’s Sarah Wood hits the volleyball during a game against Pagosa Springs, Colo., on Sept. 12 at Farmington High School.
Farmington High School's Sarah Wood hits the volleyball during a game against Pagosa Springs, Colo., on Sept. 12 at Farmington High School. (The Daily Times file photo)

"Making first team this year definitely puts Vanessa in a light where she is considered the No. 1 setter in the state right now," Becker said. "I definitely think she could get Player of the Year next year. It is a big deal getting her back because a setter is like a quarterback in football. She leads and runs the team."

Making the second team for Piedra Vista was senior Kacey Varnell. Varnell was recognized as a libero even though it isn't a position she played. Brianna Murphy was PV's libero in 2013.

"Varnell was a co-captain, along with Sofka. I was impressed with her leadership and the way she held the team accountable," Becker said. "It is really hard for a defensive specialist like her to get recognized."

Farmington High senior outside hitter Sarah Long was also named to the second team. Long was also selected as a District 1-4A Co-Player of the Year, along with Sofka.

"All the hard work has finally paid off. It is a great feeling," Long said. "FHS has made a lot of improvements over the years, and it means a lot for me to be part of that. I can't thank coach (Dan) Hickman enough and the rest of the girls. It is hard to leave without a district title or anything, but we made a lot of improvements."

FHS head coach Dan Hickman is proud of Long's recognition after watching her lead the team the past few years, and he is excited to see her and Ashley Schultz compete in the North/South All-Star Game on July 28 at West Mesa High School in Albuquerque.

"It is representative of their hard work over the years," said Hickman, who was named the District 1-4A Coach of the Year. "(Long) was a big part of our team and brought us to where we are. I hate to put a lot of weight on one player, but she really was our leader."


Class 4A Volleyball


First Team

Samantha Sofka (Piedra Vista)

Addison Pedraza (Centennial)

Renne Carrica (Goddard)

Vanessa Harris (Piedra Vista)

Victoria Spragg (Belen)

Sam Matthews (Artesia)

Megan Meeks (Goddard)

Kaitlyn Renteria (Goddard)

Libby Fidel (ABQ Academy)

Mercedes Pacheco (St. Pius X)

Player of the Year: Samantha Sofka (Piedra Vista)

Coach of the Year: Sheri Gibson (Goddard)

Second Team

Courtney Villapondo (Goddard)

Elana Salazar (Espanola)

Sarah Long (Farmington)

Risa Gutierrez (ABQ Academy)

Alexis Aguirre (Artesia)

Kelsey Bell (Los Lunas)

Shaylee Griffin (Goddard)

Katie Inman (Los Lunas)

Kayla Ledezma (Artesia)

Kacey Varnell (Piedra Vista)


4A/5A North All-Stars

Samantha Sofka (Piedra Vista)

Sellika Griffo (Cibola)

Megan Schnedar (Cleveland)

Kayla Romero (Espanola Valley)

Sarah Long (Farmington)

Ashley Schultz (Farmington)

Chloe Crappell (La Cueva)

Aimee Molina (Rio Rancho)

Megan Sharratt (Sandia)

Sienna Sloan (Sandia)

Caitlyn Martinez (St. Pius X)


All-District 1-4A

First Team

Samantha Sofka (Piedra Vista)

Nianna Alcon (Piedra Vista)

Kacey Varnell (Piedra Vista)

Vanessa Harris (Piedra Vista)

Brianna Murphy (Piedra Vista)

Sarah Long (Farmington)

Ashley Schultz (Farmington)

Francine Briones (Farmington)

Summer Otero (Farmington)

Keeshawna Ockerman (Kirtland)

Sharolyn Begay (Kirtland)

Aubrey Folk (Aztec)

Madie Sims (Aztec)

Player of the Year: Samantha Sofka  and Sarah Long

Coach of the Year: Dan Hickman (Farmington)

Honorable Mention

Brittney Hutchison (Piedra Vista)

Haleigh Lovato (Piedra Vista)

JoJo Curry (Farmington)

Ashley Flack (Farmington)

Lydia Byrom (Farmington)

Autumn Sutherland (Aztec)

Cory Zuniga (Aztec)

Rebecca Edgerton (Aztec)

Danielle Swope (Aztec)

Taylor Santistevan (Aztec)

Mikayla Paxton (Aztec)

Marley Max (Kirtland)

Alexandria Cambridge (Kirtland)

Orquidea Reyes (Kirtland)

Mylee Jones (Kirtland)

John Livingston can be reached at jlivingston@daily-times.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.