Three region champions plus runner-up vie for the 2A state title

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Players perform the sportsmanship ritual following the play-in match for the No. 16 seed to the state meet. Morenci fell in three sets to the No. 17 visitors on Nov. 1. Northland Prep was ousted by top seed Horizon Honors in three sets during the first round on Nov. 4. The semifinals are at Glendale Mountain Ridge on Friday, Nov. 11.

Morenci girls bow out of post-season at home in four sets

By Raymundo Frasquillo

GLENDALE – Forty-six teams set out with hopes of being the best at the season’s end. Twenty-four teams were still in contention following the conclusion of the regular season, 16 following the play-in round, and eight following the quarterfinals.

There are four teams still in the hunt for the top prize as the 2A state semifinals at Glendale Mountain Ridge, 22800 North 67th Ave., are set for Friday, Nov. 11.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Briseis Hudman (6) stretches to receive a shallow serve to no avail. The senior was one of seven student-athletes playing their final volleyball home play-in match.

It will be a region champion versus a runner-up in one pairing and two region champions in the other. Top seed Phoenix Horizon Honors (15-2 seeding, 14.9919 rating, 9-1 South Region for 1st) faces No. 5 Phoenix Country Day School (14-3, 12.3101, 4-1 for Metro Region for 2nd) at 5 p.m. and No. 3 Trivium Prep (14-3, 14.0993, 11-1 West Region for 1st) meets No. 10 Saint Johns (15-2, 8.8528, 12-0 North Region for 1st) at 7 p.m.

Phoenix Country Day was the 2021 state champion, a state meet participant in 9-10 most recent seasons (2012-21), and has an 8-8 (.500) post-season record; Horizon Honors was the 2016 state champion and 2015 semifinalist, a state meet participant in 8-10 seasons, and has a 10-7 (.588) post-season record; Trivium Prep has been a semifinalist in each of the past four seasons (2018-21), and has a 9-7 (.563) post-season record; and Saint Johns, the lone public school semifinalist, was the 2013 runner-up, a state meet participant in 5-10 in seasons, and has a 4-5 (.444) post-season record.

The championship match will be held in the Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, 1826 West McDowell Road in Phoenix Saturday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.

2A State Tourney Quarterfinals:

The higher and lower seeds both won two matches. It was No. 1 Horizon Honors over No. 8 Phoenix Veritas Prep (11-6, 10.0015, 4-1 Metro Region for 1st) in four sets (25-20, 22-25, 25-13, 25-20) and No. 5 Phoenix Country Day School over No. 4 Kingman Academy (15-2, 13.1539, 11-1 West Region for 2nd) in four sets (25-27, 25-18, 25-22, 25-9) in the upper bracket.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Celina Manuz goes down to dig a serve (22). The Morenci senior was one of seven Class of 2023 members on the team.

The lower bracket had No. 3 Trivium Prep over No. 6 Rancho Solano Prep (12-4, 12.3101, 3-2 Metro Region for 4th) in three sets (25-15, 25-13, 25-13) and No. 10 Saint Johns over No. 2 Chandler Prep (15-2, 14.4786, 9-1 South Region for 2nd) in three sets (25-16, 27-25, 25-21).

2A State Tourney Round One:

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Cambri McCauley (1) taps the ball opposite of where Northland Prep senior defender Bella Moseng (9) anticipated.

Eight teams, seven lower seeds, and one higher seed were eliminated following the first round.

Upper bracket results had No. 1 Phoenix Horizon Honors over No. 16 Flagstaff Northland Prep (14-6, 3.2442, 11-1 Central Region for 1st) in three sets (25-13, 25-17, 25-18), No. 8 Phoenix Veritas Prep over No. 9 Scottsdale Prep (12-5, 9.7533, 3-2 Metro Region for 3rd) in four sets (25-15, 25-17, 24-26, 25-23), No. 5 Phoenix Country Day School over No. 12 Avondale Saint John Paul II Catholic (13-6, 6.6552, 7-5 West Region for 4th) in three sets (25-9, 25-20, 25-8), and No. 4 Kingman Academy over No. 13 Queen Creek San Tan Charter (15-3, 4.3863, 9-1 Valley Region for 1st) in three sets (25-17, 25-12, 25-11).

Lower bracket results had No. 3 Trivium Prep over No. 14 Tempe Prep (10-8, 4.0653, 5-5 South Region for 3rd) in three sets (25-14, 25-13, 25-17), No. 6 Rancho Solano Prep over No. 11 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (10-7, 6.8087, 7-5 West Region for 3rd) in four sets (25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19), and No. 2 Chandler Prep over No. 15 Gilbert Classical (14-5, 3.4354, 9-1 Valley Region for 1st) in three sets (25-19, 25-9, 25-10).

The lone upset was No. 10 Saint Johns (15-2, 8.8528, 12-0 North Region for 1st) over No. 7 Tombstone (17-1, 10.9293, 12-0 East Region for 1st) in four sets (25-20, 25-9, 25-27, 25-12).

2A State Play-in Round:

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Sonia Roybal (5) keeps her eyes on the ball as she tosses it up for a serve.

The East, North, and Valley Regions each fielded three entrants; the Central, South, and West Regions had two; and the Metro had one from the teams ranked nine through 24 for the play-in round on Nov. 1. Teams ranked one through eight drew automatic berths into the first round on Nov. 5.

Sent to match inventories were No. 24 Mesa Arete Prep (12-6 seeding, 0.3350 rating, 4-6 Valley Region for 3rd) by No. 9 Scottsdale Prep in three sets (25-7, 25-18, 25-21), No. 23 Glendale Prep (10-7, 0.6793, 10-2 Central Region for 2nd) by No. 10 Saint Johns in three sets (25-16, 25-11, 25-13), No. 22 Benson (9-8, 1.1505, 6-6 East Region for 5th) by No. 11 Arizona Lutheran in four sets (25-12, 25-9, 16-25, 25-22), No. 21 Pinon (9-4, 1.4501, 8-4 North Region for 3rd) by No. 12 Saint John Paul II in three sets (), No. 20 Sanders Valley (11-5, 1.5378, 8-4 North Region for 2nd) by No. 13 San Tan Charter in four sets (25-20, 17-25, 25-14, 25-23), No. 19 Willcox (12-6, 1.9243, 7-5 East Region for 3rd) by No. 14 Tempe Prep in three sets (25-20, 25-18, 25-19), and No. 18 Maricopa Sequoia Pathway (9-7, 2.5273, 5-5 South Region for 4th) by No. 15 Gilbert Classical in four sets (26-24, 19-25, 25-13, 25-22).

2A East Region Final Standings:

The final East Region standings as of Oct. 28 were the Tombstone Yellow Jackets (23-6 overall, 17-1 seeding, 12-0 region) first, Morenci (20-11, 13-5, 9-3) second, the Willcox Cowgirls (16-9, 12-6, 7-5) third, the Pima Roughriders (6-23, 6-12, 6-6) fourth, the Benson Bobcats (13-12, 9-8, 6-6)  fifth, the Bisbee Pumas (2-25, 2-15, 2-10) sixth, and the Santa Rita Eagles (0-24, 0-17, 0-12) seventh.

The region member final state rankings as of Oct. 28 were No. 6 Tombstone (17-1 seeding, 10.9293 rating), No. 16 Morenci (13-5, 3.3871), No. 22 Benson (9-8, 1.1505), No. 19 Willcox (12-6, 1.9243), No. 30 Pima (6-12, minus 3.0034), No. 43 Bisbee (2-15, minus 16.5333), and No. 46 Santa Rita (0-17, minus 27.3710).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior Kay’Leigh Blair (3) goes head-to-head with Northland Prep senior Vanessa Faultner (0) at the net.

Northland Prep – 3, Morenci – 1

The Renee Still-coached Morenci Wildcats did leave their mark on the 2022 season, but, not as they had hoped to. The Greenlee County school became the only higher seed to falter during the play-in round, succumbing in four sets (17-25, 25-23, 22-25, 19-25) to No. 17 Flagstaff Northland Prep in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium on Nov. 1.

Morenci (13-5, 3.3871, 9-3 East Region for 2nd) both started and finished October ranked No. 16, but became one of eight teams inventorying equipment before the state meet runs its course.

The first set had two ties, at 4-4 and 7-7, and the score was within three (16-19), but six errors plus a kill accounted for the final score. The Wildcats committed two passing errors to yield points 20 and 21. A Spartan net serve gave Morenci point No. 17 and a Spartan kill resulted in point No. 22. Three consecutive serve receive miscues yielded the final score favoring the visitors.

Set two had five ties, with the final at 18-18. A kill gave Morenci the lead for good as the Wildcats outscored the Spartans 6-5 the rest of the way to win the set.

The Wildcats jumped out to an early 4-point (5-1) advantage during set three, leading by as much twice more (7-3, 12-8) before thrice gaining a 5-point lead (13-8, 15-10, 16-11).

However, a Spartans’ kill sparked four consecutive points with three Morenci errors (2 passing, 1 serve receive) to narrow the difference to one, 16-15. A Morenci net serve returned the ball to the visitors, but a home kill gave back the serve to Morenci with a kill expanding the margin to three, 19-16.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci reserves from left, Alicia Cruz, Ariza Espinoza, Ciantae Dosela, Jadyn McCall, Maddison Crawford, Kryzzia Cortez, and Alizabeth Aguilar watch the on-court action.

Morenci led 22-19 before a passing error, Spartans’ kill tip and kill evened the score at 22-22, the sets’ lone tie. A Morenci passing error, Northland Prep kill, and Morenci hitting error closed out the set favoring the Spartans.

Set four had three ties (1-1, 4-4, 8-8) with a Morenci net serve yielding the advantage to Northland Prep for good. The Spartans led by as much as eight, 20-12. Morenci narrowed its deficit to four, 17-21, with a kill (13-20), a pair of Spartan errors, a kill, and an ace (17-21), but no closer.