1A Conference volleyball state preview

November 3, 2016 by Jose Garcia, AZPreps365

The only remaining undefeated girls volleyball team in the state is set to take the court in search of that school’s first volleyball title.

St. Michaels is 20-0 and will headline the first round of the 1A Conference state tournament on Friday.

“Commitment. Strong competitive attitudes,” said St. Michael’s coach Andrea Ashkie about her team’s keys to success. “The girls work hard and push each other in practice.”

North High in Phoenix will host the two-day 1A tournament.

The championship match of the 16-team tournament is scheduled for Nov. 5 at 3 p.m., a match nfhsnetwork.com will stream live. The 1-3A state volleyball program with pictures, rosters and stories is available for free and can be downloaded here

First round matches

No. 1 seed St. Michael (20-0) vs. No. 16 Fredonia (11-8): North Section mates St. Michael and Fredonia faced each other during their final two regular season games. St. Michael didn’t drop a game during those matches. … Senior setter Sierra Badonie “pushes the boundaries at the net to set up hitters,” Ashkie said. … Junior MB Delila Nakaidinae is one of Badonie’s favorite targets. … MF Paige Laughing and OH Jalynn Smith are six rotation players. … Eight of St. Michael’s players are National Honor Society members. … St. Michael’s roster: 7 juniors, 3 seniors. … This is the first time Fredonia has won more than 10 matches in a season since 2007.

No. 9 Williams (13-6) vs. No. 8 NFL Yet (19-4):  Seven of NFL Yet’s 12 players are either freshmen or sophomores. “At the beginning of the year I believe our biggest obstacle was more on the defensive end,” coach Alan Rascon said. “Having so many young new faces, I think they weren’t just ready for what was coming there way.” … Florizet Romero and Maryann Hernandez have a combined 143 blocks. Hernandez and libero Adrianna Sharp are just sophomores but also leaders. … The tallest players on NFL Yet’s team are each 5-foot-6. … Williams only dresses two seniors, captains Rheannon Koss and Kami Batterton.

No. 12 Patagonia (12-3) vs. No. 5 St. David (15-2): The three seniors on Patagonia’s team are its captains, Lilly Wharton, Alexis Montanez and Alisa Gutierrez. “(Wharton) is a great all-around player with her tough net play, serves and defense,” coach Stephanie Padilla said. “(Montanez) is a great setter who can see both sides of the court and serves very consistently. (Gutierrez) has a great arm swing and powerful serve.”…  Senior OH Ashlyn Trejo and freshman MB Jaylin Richardson were leading St. David in kills. … St. David won its nine-team South Section with an 8-0 section record. Patagonia finished second in the same section. … St. David’s two losses came to 2A Willcox and the 1A’s No. 7 state seed, The Gregory School.

No. 13 Anthem Prep (12-4) vs. No. 4 Rock Point (16-6): Longtime Rock Point coach Melvin Arthur said captain Crystanya Begay, a senior MB/OH with great court awareness, is his assistant coach on the court. … Arthur’s team’s average GPA is 3.4. … Three of the players participate in Upward Bound, a college prep program for Native students throughout the U.S. … “I feel that our strength is how we work and fight together,” Arthur said. “These girls have been playing together since junior high school.” … Anthem Prep, a second-year program, improved its win total by six wins compared to last year. It also finished with a 7-2 West Section record. … Anthem Prep is led by two hard-working players. libero Madeline Hadlock and middle Jenna Timmerman. … A knee injury took out a key player for Anthem Prep. … “The team is strong all around,” Anthem Prep coach Raymond Wrublik said. “Good middle blocking and hitting. Smart setters. Good servers all around. Many strong hitters. And strong libero play.”

No. 3 Ash Fork (16-2) vs. No. 14 Mayer (11-7): Ash Fork’s very competitive Karen Canela, a junior, leads the 1A Conference in hitting percentage and digs per set. … Lauren Hume, a senior setter, is the floor captain, one of the team’s top servers and has great court awareness, said coach Erika Acosta. … The team only has nine players but “each player has the ability to play any position well and it paid off during (a) tournament.” … “We have to remain disciplined and focused on our team goal of a state banner,” Acosta said. “We set high expectations and practices were taken serious. We have to believe in ourselves, teammates and coaches in or order to accomplish our goal.” … Ash Fork dropped only one game during its previous two meetings against Mayer this season. … Mayer played in a section that’s also home to No. 9 seed Williams, No. 3 Ash Fork and No. 2 Mogollon. …. This is only the third time that Mayer reached double figures in victories in the past 10 seasons. … Kim Reid is in her first season as Mayer’s coach.

No. 11 Fort Thomas (14-10) vs. No. 6 Valley Lutheran (16-8): Only three seniors dot Fort Thomas’ roster. … This is the first time in more than a decade that Fort Thomas’ volleyball program has finished with back-to-back winning seasons. The 2015 and 2016 teams earned playoff berths with different coaches guiding the teams. … Valley Lutheran is led by its seniors, Kelly Black, Aimee Alianza, Belle Alliger and Dani Betancourt. Betancourt is a setter and runs the offense. Black, a right side hitter, is the team’s “stabilizing force,” keeping everybody calm. Alliger, a middle, “makes the game fun” for her team.  Alianza is the team’s emotional leader and power outside hitter. … Valley Lutheran coach Randy Krieger is back in a familiar spot — in the playoffs, preparing for another state title run. Krieger won state titles at Valley Lutheran from 1996-98. … He retired from coaching eight years ago but returned this year to coach the school’s JV team. Midway through this season he became the head coach again. … “Our team’s strengths are that we are very balanced, with no super stars,” Krieger said. “We also compete very well. The team takes on challenges and will usually rise to the occasion.”

No. 10 Duncan (14-4) vs. No. 7 The Gregory School (14-4):    

Duncan has won seven of its last eight matches, but its lone loss during that stretch came to The Gregory School in three games. … Madison French was hitting .321 with 206 kills, 94 aces and 293 digs for Duncan. Teammate Cassidy Wasters had 283 assists and 78 aces. “These two ladies possess good leadership skills both on an off the court,” coach Sandy French said. … French had to train a new, young setter, but the player stepped up and has taken control, French said. … “Team chemistry is one of our key strengths,” French said. “The team is mostly comprised of seniors that have been playing together since they were very young.” … Seven of The Gregory School’s 12 players are sophomores, including starting setter Rachel Gonzales. The sophomores have played on the same teams since middle school. It only carries two seniors, including captain Devin Johnston, a right side hitter. “In my 18 years of coaching, I have never had a more talented team,” coach Angela Vande Mheen said. “When they decided to play hard, there hasn’t been a game that we lost.” … Junior OH Elena Acuna was averaging nine kills per match.

No. 15 Bowie/San Simon (14-4) vs. No. 2 Mogollon (23-7): Bowie/San Simon made one of the biggest turnarounds in the state this season after only winning one match last year. … Kari Wade is in her first season as Bowie/San Simon coach. … Seniors Rebekkah Whipple, a middle blocker, and Bridget Mclaws Hancock, a defensive specialist, are Mogollon’s leaders and bring a lot of experience along with “the dynamic sophomore duo” of Lauren Hancock and Makenzie Willis. Hancock is averaging 3.1 kills per set, and Whipple leads the team in blocks and digs. Willis has a team-high 348 assists. … Mogollon’s serve percentage is 92.1. … Mogollon moved past Ash Fork in the rankings and won the Central Section title after defeating section foe Ash Fork twice in its final three regular season games.