On to state!

Wildcats line up during opponent introductions to wish them good luck. Morenci sent the Elks home with a 3-1 loss Nov. 5.

Wildcats end state volleyball drought, take on Scorpions in round one Friday

By Raymundo Frasquillo

PHOENIX – The state tourney drought has ended for Morenci. Two team members, seniors Reve Garcia and Angel Ontiveros were not yet in middle school the previous time Morenci qualified to be there.

The No. 13 Wildcats take on the No. 4 Sedona Red Rock Scorpions in the first round at Phoenix North High, 1101 East Thomas Road, at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8.

Morenci’s 13-member squad qualified for the state meet with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24) win over No. 19 Eagar Round Valley during the play-in round at Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium Nov. 5. The Wildcats were seeded No. 14 in the Top 24 of 50 2A teams.

The Wildcats made it to the state tourney first round as No. 21 during the 2010 season but fell in three sets (23-25, 19-25, 12-25) to No. 12 Tonopah Valley.

Head coach Rhyanna Mennen was a senior (class of 2010) the last time Morenci played in two rounds. The No. 6 Wildcats slipped past No. 11 Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 25-14, 21-25, 16-14) in the second round, and succumbed 3-0 (8-25, 24-26, 16-25) to No. 3 Phoenix Northwest Community Christian in the quarterfinals, concluding the 2009 season.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci 4th-year head coach Rhyanna Mennen emphasizes the things needed to be done during a time out. The Wildcats are 24-8 overall this season, 61-70 during four seasons under Mennen.

It was the second time in four years Morenci was 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).

Morenci is 61-70 overall (20-39 seeding, 10-26 region) during four seasons under Mennen.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The former Becky Peru high-fives Morenci junior Candace Forgach-Aguilar following the volleyball play-in match over Round Valley. Peru twice hoisted the gold ball trophy as a Morenci junior and senior during the 1984 and 1985 seasons, respectively. Morenci last qualified for the state meet during the 2011 season.

Filling out the Wildcats’ 2019 roster were juniors Jadyn Aguilera, Candace Forgach-Aguilar, Lanea Leonard, and Amaya Sanchez; sophomores Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, Elianna Cazares, Talia Martinez, Devanie Medina; and freshmen Celina Manuz, Mia Ontiveros, and Sonia Roybal.

Round Valley’s 13-member squad had three seniors, five juniors, and five sophomores coached by Marcelle Donaldson. The class breakdown was seniors Alex Gomez, Abby Sears, and Anniah Simpson; juniors Kenadee Belle, Keyala Bevall, Karli Haws, Belle Walker, and Maecie Ziegler; and sophomores Shiloh McCall, Mackenzie Merrill, Jessica Soderberg, Kyrie Walker, and Mireya Wood.

State Tourney

Four teams from the Metro Region (No. 2, 3, 6, 7) and East Region (No. 1, 11, 13, 14), three each from the Central Region (No. 4, 8, 12) and Valley Region (No. 10, 15, 16); and two from the West Region (No. 6, 9, 13) will be competing in the state tourney first round.

The 4-round state tourney is at North High Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8-9. The first round starts at 9 a.m. and the quarterfinals follow at 5 and 7 p.m. The Nov. 9 semifinals are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. while the championship match is at 5 p.m.

The first round upper bracket has No. 13 Morenci (12-6 seeding, 6.5584 rating, 7-5 East Region for 3rd) versus No. 4 Sedona Red Rock (15-1, 13.4309, 11-1 Central Region for 1st) and

No. 12 Phoenix Valley Lutheran (12-6, 6.6903, 8-4 Central Region for 3rd) versus No. 5 Glendale Trivium Prep (13-4, 13.0223, 8-0 West Region for 1st) at 9 a.m., plus

No. 9 Parker (12-5, 10.2307, 5-3 West Region for 2nd) versus No. 8 Scottsdale Prep (15-3, 11.2412, 10-2 Central Region for 2nd) and

No. 16 Phoenix Christian (9-8, 2.3205, 6-4 Valley Region for 3rd) versus No. 1 is Thatcher (17-0, 21.9484, 12-0 East Region for 1st) at 3 p.m.

The lower bracket has No. 14 Benson (10-6, 5.9676, 7-5 East Region for 4th) versus No. 3 Phoenix Veritas Prep (15-3, 17.0509, 4-1 Metro for 2nd) and

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Angel Ontiveros readies a serve during the play-in match with Round Valley. She had no errors in 21 serves.

No. 11 Pima (11-4, 9.3404, 10-2 East Region for 2nd) versus No. 6 Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep (14-3, 12.4929, 3-2 Metro Region for 3rd) at 11 a.m., plus

No. 10 Chandler Prep (15-4, 10.1141, 9-1 Valley Region for 1st) versus No. 7 Phoenix Country Day School (13-4, 11.8431, 2-3 Metro Region for 4th) and

No. 15 Gilbert Classical (10-6, 3.5277, 6-4 Valley Region for 4th) versus No. 2 Scottsdale Christian (15-1, 21.6109, 5-0 Metro Region for 1st) at 1 p.m.

The quarterfinals in the upper bracket have the Morenci – Sedona Red Rock winner versus the Valley Lutheran – Trivium Prep winner at 5 p.m. and the Phoenix Christian – Thatcher winner versus the Parker – Scottsdale Prep winner at 7 p.m.

Lower bracket pairings are the Chandler Prep – Phoenix Country Day winner versus the Gilbert Classical – Scottsdale Christian winner at 5 p.m. and the Benson – Veritas Prep winner versus the Pima – Rancho Solano Prep winner at 7 p.m.

Play-in Round

Six of eight higher-seeded teams advanced while two were upset. Ninth-ranked Parker prevailed 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-15) over No. 24 Tucson Desert Christian (13-5, 0.6087, 10-4 South Region for 2nd),

No. 10 Chandler Prep 3-1 (25-22, 25-10, 22-25, 25-13) over No. 23 Saint Johns (15-4, 10.1141, 9-1 Valley Region for 1st),

No. 11 Pima 3-1 (22-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-16) over No. 22 Glendale Prep (7-11, 1.1729, 6-6 Central Region for 4th),

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Official Mike Alva checks the rotation during the fourth set, making sure the server is correct.

No. 13 Phoenix Valley Lutheran 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-20) over No. 20 Gilbert Leading Edge (10-7, 2.9163, 6-4 Valley Region for 2nd),

No. 14 Morenci 3-1 over No. 19 Round Valley, and

No. 16 Benson 3-1 (25-14, 25-21, 21-25, 25-8) over No. 17 Pinon (15-3, 4.7167, 13-1 North Region for 1st).

The upsets were No. 18 Gilbert Classical 3-2 (25-19, 25-17, 13-25, 23-25, 15-11) over No. 15 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (11-6, 6.2110, 5-3 West region for 3rd) and

 No. 21 Phoenix Christian (25-21, 25-16, 25-17) over No. 12 Tucson Saint Augustine Catholic (15-2, 6.9161, 14-0 South Region for 1st).

The Top 24 teams included four 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).

Morenci – 3, Round Valley – 1

Success or failure is oftentimes determined by mastery of fundamentals. Putting the ball in play by getting it over the net has a lot to do with the outcome of the match.

Morenci turned in a serving percentage of 95 (91-96) compared to 91 (83-91) for Round Valley. The percentage by sets for Morenci was 86 (19-22) in set one, 100 (23-23) in set two, 96 (23-24) in set three, and 96 (26-27) in set four. The visitors had percentages of 88 (21-24), 89 (17-19), 95 (21-22), and 92 (24-26) during sets one through four.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Lanea Leonard (5) blocks a hit by Round Valley sophomore Mackenzie Merrill (10).

Individually for Morenci, Angel Ontiveros (21-21), Garcia (13-13), and Candace Forgach-Aguilar (13-13) each had flawless serves. The serve percentage was 94 (17-18) for Aguilera, 93 (13-14) for Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, 85 (11-13) for Leonard, and 75 (3-4) for Medina.

The Elks had errorless serves by Merrill (15-15), Soderberg (14-14), and Bevall (9-9). The serve percentages were 91 (10-11) for Belle Walker, 88 (14-16) for Haws, 82 (9-11) for Simpson, and 80 (12-15) for McCall.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Reve Garcia serves the ball against the Elks. The Morenci senior was one of three Wildcats posting flawless serves, going 13-13.

Morenci broke the 12th fourth-set tie, 24-24, with a Round Valley passing error and a Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar hit.

The Wildcats outscored the Elks 15-10 following the third set’s final tie at 10-10. Leading 23-20, Morenci got its final two points (24, 25) on Round Valley passing errors.

A 20-16 Morenci set two advantage was closed out with four Round Valley errors, three passing (21, 22, 23) and one hitting (24), plus a Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar kill (25). The Elks’ final point was scored on a Morenci hitting error.

Round Valley broke a 20-20 first-set tie with five straight points to take a 1-set lead. The visitors scored point 21 on a Morenci serve error, point 22 on a Morenci hitting error, point 23 on an ace serve, point 24 on a Morenci blocking error, and point 25 on a kill tip. The score was tied 20-20 after the second full rotation and the Elks led by two, 13-11, following the first full rotation.

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