Thatcher enters post-season play meeting Winslow in first round Saturday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The on-court Eagles gather at mid-court to celebrate a positive play. Thatcher meets No. 13 Winslow as No. 4 during the state tourney first round at Tempe Marcos de Niza on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Bulldogs outlast No. 19 Shamrocks during play-in, face No. 5 Crusaders as No. 14

By Raymundo Frasquillo

TEMPE – The Kim Orr-coached No. 4 Thatcher Eagles meet the No. 13 Winslow Bulldogs in the first round of the 3A state meet at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5. The Robert Abalos-coached No. 14 Safford Bulldogs face the No. 5 Phoenix Northwest Christian Crusaders at 1 p.m. The site is Tempe Marcos de Niza High, 6000 South Lakeshore Drive.

Thatcher Eagles

Thatcher (22-13 overall, 14-3 seeding, 17.3971 rating, 10-0 South Region for 2nd) participated in 17 seeding matches and 18 tourney matches during three meets, posting 14-3 and 8-10 records, respectively.

The Eagles defeated 11 seeding opponents in three sets and three in five sets. The Eagles also have a 5-set seeding loss and two 3-set losses.

Thatcher won 44 of 59 (.750) seeding sets and 22-18 (.550) tourney sets, finishing a combined 66-77 (.857) in sets for the regular season.

The Graham County school’s varsity team is seniors Madden Bingham, Molly Brown, Matti Lopeman, Marley Motes, Keyera Smith, Makenzie Sweet, and Ashlyn Thompson along with juniors Avery Bingham, Macey Carter, Peyton Devlin, Makenzi Ferrin, Maci Layton, and Marli Lopeman.

Winslow Bulldogs

Winslow (19-11, 10-8, 10.2347, 4-6 East Region for 4th) was in 18 seeding matches and 11 tourney matches during two meets, posting 10-8 and 9-3 records, respectively.

The Bulldogs recorded three 3-set wins, five 4-set wins, and two 5-set seeding wins. The losses were four in three sets, three in four sets, and one in five sets.

Winslow won 35 of 69 (.507) seeding sets and 19-27 (.704) tourney sets, finishing a combined 51-96 (.531) in sets through the first of November.

The Navajo County School has seniors Brynlee Barris, Noemy De Rosa, Haley Johnson, Janessa Myers, Shaelene Singer, and Alexis Smith; juniors Jaci Gonnie and Jauslyn Nells; sophomores Tayela Larsen, Kyra Sloan, and Lisa Tsosie; and freshmen Kaitlyn Belone, Tatum Henling, and Natilyn Nez.

Julie Thomas is the head coach.

Safford Bulldogs

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald:Brianna Camarena (7) readies a toss to deliver a serve. The Safford Class of 2023 member is one of seven seniors on the squad.

Safford (24-12, 13-4, 9.5682, 6-2 South Region for 3rd) took part in 17 seeding matches and 18 tourney matches during three meets, posting 13-4 and 10-8 records, respectively.

The Bulldogs notched nine 3-set seeding wins, three 4-set wins, and one 5-set win. The losses were three 3-sets and one 4-set.

Safford won 43 of 62 (.694) seeding sets and 25-44 (.568) tourney sets, finishing a combined 68-106 (.642) in sets through the first of November.

The Graham County school has seniors Brianna Camarena, Jordyn Espinoza, Rene Holcomb, Emma Jarvis, Jaylenn Jurado, Paige Perea, and Jazzy Rios; juniors Mia Abalos, Jaidyn Espinoza, Marlena Gonzales, Jaidyn Mortensen; sophomores Breanna Arbizo and Marley Jurado; and freshman Hannah Schade.

Northwest Christian Crusaders

Northwest Christian (27-9, 16-1, 21.6112, 12-0 North Central Region for 1st) took part in 17 seeding matches and nine tourney matches during three meets, posting 16-1 and 11-8 records, respectively.

The Crusaders prevailed in three sets over 14 seeding opponents and in four sets over two. The lone loss was in five sets.

Northwest Christian won 50 of 54 (.926) seeding sets and 25-43 (.581) tourney sets, finishing a combined 75-93 (.806) in sets during the regular season.

The Maricopa County school’s varsity roster has seniors Abigail Araujo, Grace Bliss, Johanna Boschma, Jessica Jacoby, Briella Samaniego, and Taylor Terry; juniors Alexys Ranney, Vivianna Samaniego, and Alyssa Szymanski; sophomores Olivia Barron, Amanda Hansen, Maggie Meier, and Maggie Whittemore; and freshmen Katerina DeWit, Tatum Babor, and Cadence Roberts.

Jenna Hope and Chuck Hunter are the co-head coaches.

3A State Tourney Round One

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo//Gila Herald: Thatcher senior Keyera Smith (8) tosses the ball up for a serve during a recent home match.

The upper bracket has No. 16 Parker (10-7 seeding, rating, 8-4 West Region for 2nd) versus Snowflake No. 1 (16-1 seeding, 24.0532 rating, 10-0 East Region for 1st) at 9 a.m., No. 9 Kayenta Monument Valley (13-2, 14.9563, 11-1 North Region for 2nd) vs. Gilbert Christian No. 8 (13-4, 15.2271, 7-1 South Central Region for 2nd) at 9 a.m., No. 12 Scottsdale Christian (11-6, 11.4641, 9-3 North Central Region for 2nd) vs. No. 7 Buckeye Odyssey Institute (17-1, 16.2238, 12-0 West Region for 1st) at 11 a.m., and Winslow vs. Thatcher.

In the lower bracket are Safford vs. Northwest Christian, No. 11 Tucson Tanque Verde (14-3, 12.2353, 8-0 South Region for 1st) vs. No. 4 Tuba City (16-2, 15.8509, 11-1 North Region for 1st) at 1 p.m., No. 10 Show Low (12-5, 12.3042, 6-4 East region for 3rd) vs. No. 7 Lakeside Blue Ridge (13-4, 15.7360, 7-3 East Region for 2nd) at 3 p.m., and No. 15 Camp Verde (12-6, 8.7003, 8-4 North Central Region for 3rd) vs. No. 2 Chandler Valley Christian (15-1, 23.6510, 8-0 South Central Region for 1st) at 3 p.m.

The quarterfinals are at 5 and 7 p.m.

Marcos de Niza also holds the semifinals on Friday, No. 11 while the championship will be held in the Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, 1825 West McDowell Road in Phoenix on Saturday, Nov. 12.

3A Play-in Round:

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Safford junior Mia Abalos (4) sends the ball pass Snowflake defenders (11) and (2) during the regular season finale on Oct. 26. The No. 14 Bulldogs fell in three sets to the top-ranked Lobos, but are in the round of 16 following a 5-set win over No. 19 Yuma Catholic during the play-in round on Nov. 1. Safford faces No. 3 Northwest Christian on Nov. 5

The top 24 ranked teams, nine through 24 faced one another for a play-in round with the higher seed as host and one through eight having a bye into the round of 16.

All six East Region members were still playing after the regular season’s end. Sixth place Holbrook and fifth place Payson were ousted during the play-in round on Nov. 1. Fourth place Winslow, third place Show Low, second place Blue Ridge, and region champion Snowflake each finished in the top eight and had automatic berths to the first round of bracket play.

The West, South, and North Central Regions each had four members in the top 24 while the North and South Central both had three.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Jaidyn Mortensen (6) successfully blocks an opponent hit during a recent home match.

Seven of the higher seeds advanced and one lower seed pulled an upset during the play-in round. Eliminated were No. 24 Tucson Sabino (11-6 seeding, 3.4983 rating, 4-4 South Region for 5th) in three sets by No. 9 Monument Valley, No. 23 Page (9-7, 4.0929, 7-5 North Region for 3rd) in three sets by No. 10 Show Low, No. 22 Payson (5-12, 4.9920, 2-8 East Region for 5th) in four sets by No. 11 Tanque Verde, No. 21 Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin (10-7, 5.3343, 6-2 South Central Region for 3rd) in three sets by No. 12 Scottsdale Christian, No. 19 Yuma Catholic (10-6, 6.2826, 7-5 West Region for 4th) in five sets by No. 14 Safford, and No. 18 Surprise American Leadership – West Foothills (12-4, 6.8085, 8-4 West Region for 3rd) in four sets by No. 15 Camp Verde.

 The lone upset was No. 17 Parker over No. 16 Fountain Hills (10-7, 7.7952, 7-5 North Central Region for 4th) in five sets.

3A South Region Final Standings:

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Thatcher senior Molly Brown (10) elevates the ball for a serve.

The 9-member region standings are the Tanque Verde Hawks (21-9, 14-3, 8-0) first, the Thatcher Eagles (24-13 overall, 14-3 seeding, 7-1 region) second, the Safford Bulldogs (21-9, 13-4, 6-2) third, the Pusch Ridge Christian Lions (9-19, 7-10, 5-3) fourth, the Sabino Sabercats (20-9, 11-6, 4-4) fifth, the Empire Ravens (6-16, 5-12, 3-5) sixth, the San Miguel Catholic Vipers (5-13, 5-13, 2-6) seventh, the Palo Verde Magnet Titans (3-20, 2-16, 1-7) eighth, and the Catalina Trojans (1-15, 1-15, 0-8) ninth.

The region member state final rankings as of Oct. 28 were Thatcher was No. 4 (14-3 seeding, 17.3971 rating), Tanque Verde No. 11 (14-3, 12.2353), Safford No. 14 (13-4, 9.5682), Sabino No. 24 (11-6, 3.4983), Pusch Ridge No. 25 (7-10, 1.9345), Empire No. 35 (5-12, minus 5.6282), San Miguel No. 40 (4-13, minus 13.3482), Palo Verde Magnet No. 43 (2-16, minus 17.7346), and Catalina No. 45 (1-15, minus 23.6456).