Someone threw a party and all Cienega needed was a piñata and a few balloons. As head coach Heather Mott explained, “Winning is fun.”
Cienega (6-3) swept Salpointe (1-1) Monday night and it seemed like every point, every dig and every ace was met with streamers and confetti. The bench, the fans and even the junior varsity squad was invited.
“It’s come through the years,” Mott said. “They are having fun because there is no pressure to win. They have all experienced success in other sports. I mean Skyler Cavanaugh has a state championship. They play relaxed and the fun just comes.”
Cavanaugh won a state wrestling championship over the winter and Javi Somers, Alex Muszynski, Kalani Headen, Colton Todd and McLain Mott helped guide the basketball team to a sixth ranking and a quarterfinal finish in the 5A Conference.
A coach’s son, Mott has been the rock for three years now. He broke 2,000 assists last year and is threatening to go for 1,000 more in this, his final year. He was named to the All-Tournament team of the Chandler Wolf Howl Invitational last weekend and he led the Bobcats to the 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-17) win over the Lancers.
But things weren’t that fun for the Bobcats early on when it looked like Salpointe was going to crash the party. The Lancers sprinted out to a 13-5 lead, prompting Mott to call a timeout to regroup.
David Garwacki moved over from Canyon del Oro - after leading the Dorados for four years - to take over the Salpointe program and the former Ironwood Ridge standout inherited eight seniors and six juniors. Like Cienega, the program is dotted with basketball standouts such as John Dunn, Parker Miron, Alec McCall, Jackson Breshears and Luke Wallace.
That group of boys took runner-up in the 4A state championship a mere 10 days ago. Expect big things from Salpointe as the year moves on but this was only the second match of the year for the program while the Bobcats have already battled through one of the top invitationals in the state.
Luke led the Lancers with seven kills, Miron had six digs and Jackson Baker collected 18 assists but the game-experience started to kick in and the Bobcats came alive. Down 13-5, Cienega went on a 16-8 run to tie the set up at 21-21 and then went on to win it, 25-22.
The second set was defined by four straight aces from Jacob Duron near the end of the set and the Bobcats pulled away with the 25-13 win. The third set was a bit more competitive but the Bobcats closed it out 25-17.
Salpointe is scheduled to play in two midseason tournaments, the VIEW Invitational and their own Lancer Invitational but the Lancers will have to regroup quickly with Buena (6-2) coming to town on Wednesday, Mar. 8. The Colts took second place at the TUSD Invitational on Saturday.
The Bobcats will also take part in the Lancer Invitational in April and they will also face Buena next. The Colts will host the Lancers Tuesday night in a match sure to be packed with power points come playoff time.
Mott had 23 assists and six kills, Cavanaugh led Cienega with 12 kills and Duron had eight digs to lead Cienega against Salpointe.