Wildcats take 2-1 region mark into home match with 1-2 Bobcats Thursday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci sophomore Mia Ontiveros (7) blocks a hit by Pima senior Kali Nelson (24) during set four. However, two other Nelson hits scored points 23 and 25 to win the Sept. 29 region match.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – A year ago, the Wildcats were 2-2 in the region as they faced the Bobcats for the first time in Benson. Morenci succumbed in four sets but split the pairings, prevailing at home in four sets later in the season. The Wildcats finished ahead of fourth-place Benson in the 2A East Region behind Thatcher (first) and Pima (second).

This time, amidst a global health crisis altered season, the initial pairing of the region members is in Wildcat Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday, Oct. 8. Benson brings a 1-3 overall record (1-2 region) with wins in four of 14 sets, while Morenci has a 3-2 mark (2-1) with wins in 10 of 19 sets.

Benson topped Bisbee in four sets (25-16, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23) on Oct. 6. The Bobcats fell in four sets to Willcox on Oct. 1 and in three sets twice, to Pima (19-25, 14-25, 17-25) on Sept. 29 and to Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian (8-25, 14-25, 18-25) on Sept. 22.

Morenci returned from “the town too tough to die” with a 4-set (25-16, 22-25, 25-8, 25-17) win over the Tombstone Yellow Jackets on Oct. 6.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima junior Ashlie Sherwood’s (17) hit is blocked by Morenci junior Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar (10), breaking a 4-point run (21-17) by the visitors. Morenci led 18-11 in set four before the momentum changed. Pima added 14 points on four kills, an ace serve, and nine Morenci errors while the Wildcats mustered four points on three kills plus a Roughriders’ error.

Week two had the Wildcats over Bisbee in three sets (26-24, 25-11, 25-19) Sept. 29, then falling in four sets to Pima (16-25, 21-25, 25-18, 22-25) on Oct. 1 and in three sets to Phoenix Country Day School (19-25, 7-25, 19-25) on Oct. 3.

Morenci opened the season with a five-set win over the Saint David Tigers, breaking a 2-2 tie with a 15-8 fifth set effort Sept. 22. The Wildcats took the first two sets (25-19, 26-24) while the Tigers won the third (21-25) and fourth (18-25) sets.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Candace Forgach-Aguilar readies a match-winning serve against Saint David on Sept. 22. The match was deadlocked 2-2 with a 14-8 deciding set score as the Tigers passed the ball into the net to end the match. The teams both had a full rotation, with Morenci serving 12-13 and Saint David 8-9 during set five.

An 11-member roster for Morenci has seniors Candace Forgach-Aguilar, Jadyn Aguilera, Lanae Leonard, and Amaya Sanchez; juniors Juliauna Forgach-Aguilar, Rayla Funari, Viviana Mendez-Draper, and Devanie Medina; sophomores Celina Manuz and Mia Ontiveros; and freshman Alizabeth Aguilar.

Rhyanna Mennen is in her fifth season of coaching the Wildcats.

The other East Region pairing Thursday is Bisbee at Willcox. Pima and Tombstone are both idle.

Pima (5-1 overall) is atop the East Region standings with a 3-0 mark as of Oct. 6, Morenci (3-2) is second at 2-1, Willcox (2-5) is third at 1-2, Benson (1-3) is fourth at 1-2, Bisbee (2-2) is fifth at 1-2, and Tombstone (2-3) is sixth at 1-2. The Roughriders have road wins over Benson in three sets Sept. 29 and Morenci in four sets Oct. 1 plus a three-set home win over Willcox on Oct. 6.

Willcox has gone fours sets in a loss to Tombstone (Sept. 29) and a win over Benson (Oct. 1); Bisbee fell in three sets to Morenci, topped Tombstone in four sets (Oct. 1) and fell to Benson in four sets (Oct. 6); and Tombstone went four sets in a win over Willcox (Sept. 29) plus in losses to Bisbee (Oct. 1) and Morenci (Oct. 6).

There are 38 teams in the 2A class competing in six regions for the 2020 campaign, one with eight, one with seven, three with six apiece, and one with five.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Volleyball official Vince Greer reviews calls with student line judges prior to a match in Morenci.

The Valley Region has Chandler Prep, Gilbert Arete Prep, Gilbert Classical, Gilbert San Tan Charter, Maricopa Sequoia Pathway, Mesa Sequoia Charter, Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep, and Surprise Horizon Honors; the Central Region has Flagstaff Northland Prep, Glendale Desert Heights Prep, Glendale Prep, Phoenix North Pointe Prep, Phoenix Valley Lutheran, Scottsdale Prep, and Sedona Red Rock; the South Region has Eagar Round Valley, Eloy Santa Cruz, Miami, Saint Johns, and Tucson schools Saint Augustine Catholic and San Miguel Catholic; the West Region has Avondale Saint John Paul II Catholic, Glendale Trivium Prep, Kingman Academy, Laveen Heritage, Mohave Valley River Valley, and Phoenix Arizona Lutheran; and the Metro Region has Phoenix Basis, Phoenix Country Day School, Phoenix Christian, Phoenix Veritas Prep, and Scottsdale Christian.