Eagles visit region-leading Hawks on Tuesday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Safford defenders Alexis Rope (10) and Mia Abalos (4) leap up to block a hit by Sahaurita junior Aubrey Hitchner (14). The Bulldogs prevailed in three sets over the visiting Mustangs on Sept. 5. Safford hosts Show Low on Tuesday, Sept. 19, and Tanque Verde on Thursday, Sept. 21.

Safford hosts Tanque Verde on Thursday

By Raymundo Frasquillo

SAFFORD – The Robert Abalos-coached Safford Bulldogs welcome the region-leading Tucson Tanque Verde Hawks on Thursday, Sept. 21. It will be a 3A South Region contest.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Kai-Lee Cordova (13) passes the ball to a teammate.

The Bulldogs also meet 3A East Region Show Low in Norma Bellamy Gymnasium on Tuesday, Sept. 19. A 1-1 tie ensued following a tourney pairing in Snowflake on Sept. 15.

Graham County neighbor Thatcher visits Tanque Verde for a non-region contest on Sept. 19. The region match is a month later, in Thatcher on Oct. 19.

Show Low Cougars (12-4-1 overall)

Thus far, the Cougars (12-4-1 overall, 7-0 seeding, 2-0 3A East Region) have seeding match wins of 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-15) over Pima (Aug. 26), 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-12) over Payson (Aug. 28), 3-1 (27-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-15) over Fort Defiance Window Rock (Aug. 29), 3-0 (25-5, 25-12, 25-13) over Queen Creek San Tan Foothills (Aug. 30), 3-0 (25-20, 25-10, 25-20) over Saint Michael (Sept. 5), 3-2 (22-25, 25-20, 25-16, 19-25, 15-5) over Winslow (Sept. 11), and 3-1 (25-16, 25-22, 23-25, 27-25) over Tanque Verde (Sept. 14).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Marli Lopeman (3) tosses the ball up to deliver a serve. The Thatcher Class of 2024 member is one of three seniors on the team.

Show Low has participated in the same two tourneys as Safford, but ended up playing 10 matches in Snowflake, four more than the Bulldogs, and six in the Goodyear Estrella Foothills meet. Show Low went 5-4-1 and 4-2, respectively.

The 11-member team, coached by Melissa Brimhall, includes seniors Allie Garvin, Kieya Kraftor, and Amberlyn Linsey; juniors Kallie Hall and Marissa Hansen; and sophomores Jaylee Boyce, Jordyn Boyce, Avery Ervien, Livi Flake, Sarah Gibbins, and Gracie Umphress.

Safford Bulldogs (10-5-1)

The Bulldogs (10-5-1, 4-0, 0-0 3A South Region) have won four seeding matches and six of 12 tourney matches.

Safford has seeding match wins of 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-16) over Tucson Cholla (Aug. 29), 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-16) over Sahuarita (Sept. 5), 3-0 over Sabino (Sept. 7), and 3-0 (25-11, 25-7, 25-19) over New Mexico Silver (Sept. 13).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Jaidyn Mortensen (6) serves the ball during a recent match. The Safford senior is one of four Class of 2024 members on the varsity roster.

The 13-member roster has seniors Mia Abalos, Jaidyn Espinosa, Melanie Gonzales, and Jaidyn Mortensen; juniors Breanna Arbizo, Mianah Carasco, and Marley Jurado; sophomores Kai-Lee Cordova, Jerzi Hawkins, Rhylie Klajda, Alexis Rope, Hannah Schade; and freshman Payton Abalos.

Tanque Verde Hawks (7-4 overall, 3-2 seeding, 1-0 region)

The Hawks (7-4, 3-2, 1-0 3A South Region) have seeding wins of 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 21-25, 25-15) over Empire (Aug. 31), 3-1 (25-12, 25-18, 21-25, 28-26) over Pusch Ridge Christian (Sept. 7), and 3-1 over Walden Grove (Sept. 13). The losses are 1-3 (25-16, 18-25, 18-25, 18-25) to Tucson Mica Mountain (Sept. 5) and 1-3 (16-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-27) to Show Low (Sept. 14).

Tanque Verde went 4-2 in the Palo Verde Magnet tourney (Sept. 1-2).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher senior Avery Bingham (8) sends the ball past Pima junior Kenzie Chalarson (11) during a Sept. 13 pairing. The Eagles posted a 3-set win over the Roughriders.

The 15-member roster, coached by Adam Shingler, has seniors Toni Defalco, Hannah Haggard, Dalaney Mikkelson, and Karson Taylor; juniors Addison Altherr, Ava Cheney, Ella McCarthy, Elaina Smiley, and Julia Sprotte; sophomores Elise Mansour, Alivia Sutton, Cayla Vimmerstedt, and Danica Vimmerstedt; and freshmen Sophia Cheney and Megan Hadley.

Thatcher Eagles (3-14)

The Eagles (3-14, 3-4, 1-0 3A South Region) have seeding wins of 3-0 (25-13, 25-7, 25-7) over Sabino (Aug. 28), 3-0 (25-10, 25-13, 25-16) over Sahuarita Walden Grove (Aug. 30), and 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-17) over Pima (Sept. 13). The losses are 0-3 () to Snowflake (Aug. 24), 0-3 (19-25, 19-25, 12-25) to Tucson Canyon del Oro (Sept. 5), 0-3 (5-25, 16-25, 22-25) to Mica Mountain (Sept. 7), and 0-3 (14-25, 18-25, 20-25) to Chandler Valley Christian (Sept. 15).

Thatcher went 0-7 during the Chandler tourney (Sept. 1-2) and 0-3 during the Red Mountain tourney (Sept. 8-9).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Breanna Arbizo (5) warm-up with intensity before a home match. The Safford junior is one of the 13-member squad.

The Kim Orr-coached Eagles include seniors Avery Bingham, Macey Carter, and Marli Lopeman; juniors Kadie Bingham, Kenady Davis, Maggie Draper, Laci Hull, and Adysen Smith; sophomores Tyla Bryce, Presley Cummard, Shaylee Hughes, Makenzi Lunt, Lanie Larson, Emry Nelson, Kylia Nelson; and freshman Lillie Welker.

3A South Region Standings

Two of the nine-member region teams have played a region match to date. Tanque Verde and Thatcher have a region win apiece while Empire and Sabino each have a region loss.

Tanque Verde posted a 4-set (25-20, 25-17, 21-25, 25-15) win over Empire (Aug. 31) and Thatcher’s win is in three sets (25-13, 25-7, 25-7) over Sabino (Aug. 28).

Listed first coming out of the weekend is Tanque Verde (3-2 seeding), second Thatcher (3-4), third Safford (4-0), fourth Palo Verde Magnet (2-3), fifth Pusch Ridge Christian (3-4), sixth Sabino (1-6), seventh Empire (2-3), eighth Catalina (0-3), and ninth San Miguel Catholic (0-4).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher head coach Kim Orr, right, is the last on her team to perform the sportsmanship ritual following the conclusion of a match.