Wildkats welcome Gladiators on Thursday; Warriors on Friday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Lynnie Neilson substitutes for freshman Kiley McGrath.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

DUNCAN – Duncan welcomes the 1A No. 5 North Phoenix Prep Gladiators (13-5 overall, 12-1 seeding, 6-0 1A East Region for No. 1 of 9) on Thursday, Oct. 11, and the 1A Sells Baboquivari Warriors (0-8, 0-8, 0-4 1A South Region for No. 11 of 11) on Friday, Oct. 12.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Senior setter Payton Damron receives the serve during a home match with Valley Union on Oct. 5. The Wildkats prevailed in three sets.

Two region matches remain for Duncan (8-18, 7-6, 2-3 1A East Region for 5 of 9) in the regular season, with the 1A No. 13 Kearny Ray Bearcats (10-4, 6-3, 2-1 1A East Region for 4 of 9) on Oct. 16 and at the 1A No. 10 Superior Panthers (7-7, 7-3, 2-2 1A East Region for 5 of 9) on Oct. 18.

Duncan has gone 2-1 in October, falling in a region home match in three sets (25-18, 25-20, 25-12) to the Phoenix NFL Yet Eagles on Oct. 2, and defeating the Lobos in Patagonia during four sets Oct. 4 and the Elfrida Valley Union Blue Devils during three sets (25-20, 25-23, 25-19) Oct. 5.

Although a ball or two dropped in between a couple of players during the home match with Valley Union, the Wildkats have improved with the more court time they get together.

“Our middle blockers are doing well,” head coach Sandi French said.

Duncan closed out September in the Chandler Prep Invitational, going 1-2 in Pool S, topping Scottsdale Cicero Prep in two sets and falling in two sets to both Whiteriver Alchesay and Cottonwood Mingus on the 28th. The Wildkats lost both third-place Silver Bracket matches, in two sets to Pool “T” Mohave Valley River Valley and in three sets to Pool “Q” Coolidge on the 29th. Pool “R” Alhambra downed River Valley in two sets to finish atop the four teams.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Junior Kaitlyn Lunt taps the ball over the net to score a point against Valley Union.

A total of 96 teams competed in the two-day meet, 24 pools having four teams apiece on the first day and 32 teams in the Platinum, Silver, and Gold Brackets on the second day. Each bracket included the top two finishers (16) in each pool, the third placers (8), and the fourth placers (8) vying to be number one.

The Platinum Bracket included teams from Pools A-H, the Gold I-P, and the Silver Q-X.

Fort Thomas, Pima, and Thatcher also took part in the meet, each finishing atop pools “X,” “M,” and “H.” respectively, with 3-0 records.

The Fort Thomas Apaches ended 5-2, falling in two sets to 2A Tuba City Greyhills, topping both 2A Tucson Santa Rita and 1A Gilbert Arete Prep in two sets, and falling in two sets to 3A Gilbert Christian. The pool wins were each in two sets over 4A Casa Grande Vista Grande, over 5A Tempe McClintock, and over 5A Phoenix Carl Hayden.

Pima left with a 4-2 mark, falling in three sets to 3A Page, defeating 4A Scottsdale Saguaro in two sets, and succumbing in three sets to 4A Phoenix Saint Mary’s. The Roughriders’ pool matches were each 2-set wins over 3A Queen Creek American Leadership, 1A Rock Point, and over 1A Ash Fork.

The Thatcher Eagles posted a 3-2 record for the meet, falling in twos sets to a pair of 3A teams, Chandler Arizona College Prep and to Buckeye Odyssey Institute. Pool wins were in two sets over 5A Surprise Willow Canyon, over 2A Phoenix Arizona Lutheran, and over 4A Tucson Canyon del Oro.