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VOLLEYBALL: Sahuaro defeats Tucson 3-1

September 18, 2015 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Abi Nash (Andy Morales/

Tucson Sahuaro remained perfect after the Cougars defeated Tucson 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-12) on Thursday night. The win solidified the Cougars as one of the teams to beat in Southern Arizona after the squad improved to 5-0 in division play and 11-0 overall including a six-game sweep at the TUSD Invitational two weekends ago.

The Badgers remain strong at 4-2 (9-3).  Tucson Salpointe is currently 6-0 including a section win over Marana Mountain View.

The match between Sahuaro and Tucson featured junior Brielle Sterns and senior Mia Sokolowski but, as is frequently the case, other players stepped up to make a difference.

Sahuaro sophomore Abi Nash finished with a match-high 22 kills. It was her play that kept the Cougars competitive while the rest of the team had difficulty finding the court early on.

"I knew we had a big job to do and we all worked hard," Nash explained. "We all played our part but I had to score more to help after our slow start."

Tucson committed five service errors in the first set but the Badgers were still able to hold on for the 25-22 win. Sahuaro failed on nine attempts at the net and it looked like trend would continue in the second set but the Cougars started to win almost every rally.

Nash added six kills in the second set and Sokolowski responded with seven of her own but Tucson could not comeback from a 17-10 deficit and Sahuaro pulled away for the 25-18 win to tie the match at 1-1.

The Badgers began to have service issues again in the third set but Sahuaro was also having issues putting anything together until the Cougars found themselves down 17-15.

Sahuaro went on a 10-0 run with Nash providing the last two scores to close out the 25-17 win. Tucson coach Amanda Larriva noticed a change in her team during the run. The usually free-spirited group forgot who they were.

"We need to focus on being ourselves, which is a group of hard-working, fun, light-hearted, COMPETITIVE girls," Larriva explained. "When we play our game we're successful. When we become too serious and focused we lose."

The Cougars found themselves up 2-1 without relying too much on Sterns but that changed in the final set. Sterns recorded four kills and a block to pace the Cougars to a 10-2 lead and an eventual 25-12 win.

Sokolowski led Tucson with 18 kills, 5 blocks and 10 digs.  It was another complete performance by Sokolowski but the play of Nash and her sisters Madeline Nash (7 digs) and Morgan Nash (36 assists and 12 digs) helped turn the tide.

Sterns finished with 13 kills.

"It's great to have my sisters on the court with me," Abi Nash added. "To know we can count on each other is very special,"

Jayde Isimang added nine digs for Tucson and Bailey Gin had 27 assists. Anna Lopez had six kills.

Tucson will visit Oro Valley Canyon del Oro (4-2) next Tuesday and Sahuaro will host Marana (1-4) on the same night.