Top four teams meet for state semifinals Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: The Morenci bench reacts to a successful block against Benson during the play-in round on Nov. 2. The No. 11 Wildcats fell in three sets to No. 6 Veritas Prep on Nov. 6. Veritas Prep was ousted in the next round. Prior to squaring off, the sets win percentage was nearly even, Veritas Prep with 74.2 (49-of-66) and Morenci with 74.1 (40-54). The 2019 Wildcats were also eliminated in the same round, as No. 13 by No. 4 Sedona Red Rock.

Riders eliminated in 5-set quarterfinal, Wildcats fall in 3-set round one

By Raymundo Frasquillo

GLENDALE – The top four ranked volleyball teams advanced to the semifinal round on the Glendale Mountain Ridge campus, 22800 North 67th Avenue Nov. 12. Top-ranked Chandler Prep meets No. 4 Glendale Trivium Prep at 5 p.m. and No. 2 Phoenix Country Day School faces No. 3 Scottsdale Christian at 7 p.m. The championship match is at Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 13.

Chandler Prep (17-0 seeding, 24.1450 rating, 10-0 Valley Region for first) eliminated No. 16 Ganado (11-5, 3.3676, 6-4 North Region for third) in three sets (25-7, 25-15, 25-10) during the first round and No. 8 Sedona Red Rock (15-3, 11.1506, 11-1 Central Region for first) in three sets (25-23, 28-26, 25-15) during the quarterfinals.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci’s bench reacts to the home play-in round match win over Benson on Nov. 2. The Wildcats posted an 8-2 home record.

Trivium Prep (14-3, 16.7831, 10-0 West Region for first) defeated No. 13 Flagstaff Northland Prep (11-5, 7.1670, 9-3 Central Region for second) in three sets (25-9, 25-17, 25-18) and No. 5 Pima (13-4, 12.9018, 10-0 East Region for first) in five sets (19-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-8).

Phoenix Country Day (16-1, 21.9665, 5-0 Metro Region for first) ousted No. 15 Phoenix Horizon Honors (8-9, 6.3715, 5-5 Valley Region for fourth) in three sets (25-9, 25-13, 25-15) and No. 7 Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep (14-4, 12.3469, 8-2 Valley Region for second).

Scottsdale Christian (14-2, 21.2206, 4-1 Metro Region for second) downed No. 14 Scottsdale Prep (11-7, 7.1121, 8-4 Central Region for third) in three sets (25-14, 25-14, 25-10) and No. 11 Veritas Prep (14-5 seeding, 12.8508 rating, 4-2 Metro Region for third) in three sets (25-13, 25-15, 25-22).

Advancing in the first round were Red Rock, 3-0 (25-23, 28-26, 25-15) over No. 9 Phoenix Arizona Lutheran (13-5, 10.3750 rating, 8-2 West Region for second); Pima, 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 25-15) over No. 12 Kingman Academy (12-5, 7.1957, 6-4 West Region for third); Veritas Prep, 3-0 (25-13, 25-21, 25-22) over No. 11 Morenci (12-3, 8.6110, 8-2 East Region for second); and Rancho Solano Prep, 3-1 (10-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-23) over No. 10 Eagar Round Valley (12-2, 9.0531, 9-0 North Region for first).

Play-in: Morenci – 3, Benson – 0

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Instead of slamming the ball, Morenci senior Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar sends a tip over the outstretched hands of the defenders on Nov. 2. The No. 11 Wildcats swept No. 22 Benson to advance into the state tourney round one against No. 6 Veritas Prep.

Eleventh ranked Morenci swept No. 22 Benson in straight sets (25-12, 25-15, 25-19) to advance against the No. 6 Veritas Prep Falcons for the state meet round one. Morenci advanced to the same round during the 2019 season, succumbing 3-0 (14-25, 20-25, 24-26) to No. 4 Sedona Red Rock as No. 13 at Phoenix North High. The Scorpions fell in four sets during the quarterfinals.

Veritas Prep posted wins in 49-of-66 (.742) sets. The 14 match wins were in four sets twice as well as a dozen in three sets. The Falcons succumbed in five sets once, in four sets once, and in three sets thrice.

Following the play-in round, Morenci had won 12 matches in 40-54 (.741) sets, once in five, thrice in four, and eight times in three. The Wildcats succumbed in four sets once, and in three sets twice.

Morenci’s 13-member squad, coached by Jamie Pomaski, has seniors Celine Berube, Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, Rayla Funari, Devanee Medina, and Viviana Mendez-Draper; juniors Kryzzia Cortez, Alicia Cruz, Celina Manuz, Mia Ontiveros, and Sonia Roybal; and sophomores Alizabeth Aguilar, Kay’Leigh Blair, and Madison Crawford.

The 2A East Region runner-up and the third-place team pairing was held in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium on Nov. 2. The teams met twice during the regular season with the Wildcats prevailing during four sets (21-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-15) at Benson on Oct. 7 and in three sets (25-15, 25-17, 25-21) in Morenci on Oct. 26.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci junior Mia Ontiveros attacks the ball and scores a point as the defender was unable to successfully block it. The action occurred during the play-in round with No. 22 Benson on Nov. 2.

Benson trailed 4-0 in the opening set before a Morenci blocking error gave the visitors their initial point. The Bobcats cut their deficit in half with an ace serve, and got within one at 5-6, but never tied or took the lead throughout the set.

Morenci led by 13, 23-10, before a hitting error gave Benson 11 points and a tip landed out of reach for its 12th point. The Wildcats added two points to close out the set.

Aggressive net play fueled Morenci’s 10-0 run to close out the second set. The last of five ties, 15-15, was broken by a well-placed tip as the Wildcats pulled away with 10 unanswered points, for the set and match win.

The third set was tied once early as the hosts broke the 1-1 tie and went on to lead by as much seven, 21-14. Benson got within four twice, 21-17 and 22-18, but no closer.

Benson (11-8, 2.2218, 6-4 East Region for third) had triumphed in 35-of-64 (.547) sets, winning thrice during five sets, twice during four sets, as well as six times in three sets. The Bobcats had also lost in five sets once, in four sets twice, and in three sets four times. 

Other Play-in results

Other play-in round winners were No. 9 Arizona Lutheran over No. 24 Miami 3-0 (25-15, 25-10, 25-7), No. 10 Round Valley over No. 23 Glendale Prep 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-8), No. 12 Kingman Academy over No. 21 Madison Highland 3-0, No. 13 Northland Prep over No. 20 Saint John Paul II 3-0 (25-15, 25-12, 25-16), No. 14 Scottsdale Prep over No. 19 Saint Johns 3-2 (19-25, 25-19, 25-19, 24-26, 15-8), No. 18 Ganado over No. 15 Gilbert Classical (13-6, 6.9176, 8-2 Valley Region for third) 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-15, 25-23), and No. 16 Horizon Honors over No. 17 Desert Heights 3-0.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Devanie Medina drills the ball at Benson defenders during the regular season home match.

Top 24 teams

Central and Valley Region members numbered five teams apiece in the Top 24; the West Region four; the East, North, and Metro Regions three each; and one independent.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci senior Celine Berube checks the defense before deciding where to direct her serve.

The final Top 24 ranked 2A teams of 47 on Oct. 30 had No. 1 Chandler Prep, No. 2 Phoenix Country Day, No. 3 Scottsdale Christian, No. 4 Glendale Trivium Prep, No. 5 Pima, No. 6 Veritas Prep, No. 7 Rancho Solano Prep, No. 8 Sedona Red Rock, No.  9 Arizona Lutheran, No. 10 Round Valley, No. 11 Morenci, No. 12 Kingman Academy, No. 13 Northland Prep, No. 14 Scottsdale Prep, No. 15 Gilbert Classical, No. 16 Phoenix Horizon Honors, No. 17 Glendale Desert Heights Prep (11-6, 5.1630, 7-5 Central Region for fourth), No. 18 Ganado, No. 19 Saint Johns (8-6, 2.8852, 7-3 North Region for second), No. 20 Avondale Saint John Paul II (8-8, 2.8046, 4-6 West Region for fourth), No. 21 Phoenix Madison Highland (9-3, 2.5826, Independent), No. 22 Benson (11-8, 2.2218, 6-4 East Region for third), No. 23 Glendale Prep (7-11, 1.8574, 5-7 Central Region for fifth), and No. 24 Gilbert Arete Prep (9-8, 1.4002, 5-5 Valley Region for fifth).

South Region first and second placers, No. 35 Tucson Saint Augustine Catholic (11-7, minus 6.3374, 9-1 South Region for first) and No. 36 Miami (10-8, minus 6.5850, 9-1 South Region for second), were automatic qualifiers for the play-in round as the top two region finishers. However, Saint Augustine did not participate and Miami entered the round as No. 24, bumping out Gilbert Arete Prep (9-8, 1.4002, 5-5 Valley Region for fifth) for the slot.

Final East Region standings

The final East Region standings following matches played on Oct. 28 were No. 6 Pima first, No. 11 Morenci second, No. 21 Benson third, No. 25 Willcox (9-8, minus 0.4788, 2-8 region) fourth, and No. 27 Tombstone (8-10, minus 1.8147, 3-7 region) fifth, and No. 31 Bisbee (8-11, minus 4.0390, 1-9 region) sixth.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci Class of 2022 members are all smiles having won the Senior Night set one regular-season match with Benson. From left are, Rayla Funari, Devanie Medina, Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, Santana Garcia, Celine Berube, and Viviana Mendez-Draper. The Wildcats went on to post a 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-21) win on Oct. 26.