Morenci hosts volleyball play-in match versus Round Valley

Raymundo Frasqullo Photo/Gila Herald: Wildcats react with joy after defeating Benson in four sets Oct. 28. The on-court players included two seniors, two juniors, a sophomore, and a freshman. The sextet had two pairs of sisters. Morenci downed Tombstone in three sets the following day to finish with a 12-6 seeding record. A No. 14 ranking allowed the Wildcats to host No. 19 Round Valley for a play-in match Nov. 5.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Rhyanna Mennen-coached No. 14 Morenci Wildcats host the No. 19 Eagar Round Valley Elks for a play-in match Tuesday, Nov. 5. Morenci (12-6 seeding, 6.5584 rating, 7-5 East Region for 3rd) slipped past the Elks (13-5, 2.9653, 12-2 North Region for 2nd) previously during three sets (25-22, 26-24, 25-21) in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium Sept. 28.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Official Art Gherna signals possession after a point was scored.

Four teams finished in the top 24 from the Metro Region (No. 2, 3, 6, 7), Central (No. 4, 8, 13. 22), East (No. 1, 11, 14, 16), and Valley (No. 10, 18, 20, 21); three from both the West (No. 5, 9, 15) and North (No. 17, 19, 23); and two from the South (No. 12, 24).

The other play-in pairings include:

No. 17 Pinon (15-3, 4.7167, 13-1 North Region for 1st) at No. 16 Benson (10-6, 5.9676, 7-5 East Region for 4th),

No. 18 Gilbert Classical (10-6, 3.5277, 6-4 Valley Region for 4th) at No. 15 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (11-6, 6.2110, 5-3 West region for 3rd),

No. 20 Gilbert Leading Edge (10-7, 2.9163, 6-4 Valley Region for 2nd) at No. 13 Phoenix Valley Lutheran (12-6, 6.6903, 8-4 Central Region for 3rd),

No. 21 Phoenix Christian (9-8, 2.3205, 6-4 Valley Region for 3rd) at No. 12 Tucson Saint Augustine Catholic (15-2, 6.9161, 14-0 South Region for 1st),

No. 22 Glendale Prep (7-11, 1.1729, 6-6 Central Region for 4th) at No. 11 Pima (11-4, 9.3404, 10-2 East Region for 2nd),

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Angel Ontiveros (13) and sophomore Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar (10) blocked Benson junior Emily Dawson’s hit.

No. 23 Saint Johns (15-4, 10.1141, 9-1 Valley Region for 1st) at No. 10 Chandler Prep (15-4, 10.1141, 9-1 Valley Region for 1st), and

No. 24 Tucson Desert Christian (13-5, 0.6087, 10-4 South Region for 2nd) at No. 9 Parker (12-5, 10.2307, 5-3 West Region for 2nd).

The winners face the top 8 for the state tourney first round at Phoenix North High, 1101 East Thomas Road on Friday, Nov. 8. The semifinals and final are Nov. 9.

Ranked No. 1 is Thatcher (17-0, 21.9484, 12-0 East Region for 1st), No. 2 Scottsdale Christian (15-1, 21.6109, 5-0 Metro Region for 1st), No. 3 Phoenix Veritas Prep (15-3, 17.0509, 4-1 Metro for 2nd), No. 4 Sedona Red Rock (15-1, 13.4309, 11-1 Central Region for 1st), No. 5 Scottsdale Prep (15-3, 11.2412, 10-2 Central Region for 2nd), No. 6 Glendale Trivium Prep (13-4, 13.0223, 8-0 West Region for 1st), No. 7 Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep (14-3, 12.4929, 3-2 Metro Region for 3rd), and Phoenix Country Day School (13-4, 11.8431, 2-3 Metro Region for 4th).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Fourth-year Morenci head coach Rhyanna Mennen discusses strategy with the Wildcats during the match.

Morenci closed out the 2019 regular season last week with a pair of wins, 3-1 (25-23, 24-25, 25-8, 25-22) over the Benson Bobcats in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium Oct. 28 and 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-23) over the Yellow Jackets in Tombstone Oct. 29.

Final standings for the East Region were Thatcher first (12-0), Pima second (10-2), Morenci third (7-5), Benson fourth (7-5), Tombstone fifth (4-8), Bisbee sixth (2-10), and Willcox seventh (0-12).

The rankings for the other East Region members were No. 25 for Tombstone (8-10, minus 0.1081), No. 31 for Bisbee (4-11, minus 3.9042), and No. 32 for Willcox (4-11, minus 3.9042).

Morenci went 12-6 in October, 7-5 in seeding matches and 5-1 in the Chandler Prep Invitational Tournament. An 11-2 overall mark, 5-1 in seeding matches and 6-1 in the Morenci Invitational, was posted by the Wildcats in September.

It is the second time in four years Morenci has been in the top 24 at the regular season’s end. The No. 22 Wildcats (7-9, 0.2573, 4-8 for East No. 5) were at No. 11 Pima (13-4, 10.8232, 10-2 East Region for No. 2) for a play-in match in 2017, succumbing in three sets. Morenci ended No. 34 (3-15, minus 5.9587, 2-12 for 6th) in 2018 while the 2016 team was No. 25 (9-8, 0.6092, 4-8 for 4th).

The Wildcats are 60-70 (23-8 in 2019, 8-29 in 2018, 14-19 in 2017, and 15-14 in 2016) overall, 20-39 (12-6, 3-15, 7-10, 9-8) seeding, and 10-26 (7-5, 2-10, 4-8, 4-8) region during four seasons under Mennen.

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