Wed, Oct. 16

Mingus volleyball continues hex on region rival Sinagua

Mingus Union has had Sinagua’s number in volleyball this season.

Though the Marauders finished last in the Grand Canyon Region standings, they’ve won three of four meetings with the third-place Mustangs.

Win number three came Tuesday night in the opening round of the league tournament. Mingus rallied from a one-set deficit to beat the ‘Stangs 10-15, 15-7, 15-9 on their home floor. Sinagua’s season comes to an end, while the Marauders advance to play in Saturday’s GCR semifinals against Page.

One or two more upsets, and a Mingus team that only won once in regular season league play could be going to the state playoffs.

"I think it was big from the fans' perspective and big from the kids' perspective," said Mingus coach Jim Short. "We've struggled a bit so any win is a big one. But I was pretty sure we were going to beat them. I wasn't shocked. The separation between one and six in our conference, and especially two and six, isn't as broad as people might think."

In the one win Sinagua did manage against Mingus this season, the Mustangs unleashed 6-0 stalwart Jenna Peace, who proved unstoppable around the net. This time the Marauders worked overtime to avoid her. The strategy worked.

"We had a plan going in to work around her," Short said. "We hit the ball a lot."

Credit Krista Kessel for giving the Marauders an early offensive lift. Senior leader Jill Ferreira came up with big hits throughout, and Christie Hoover added enough firepower to keep the Mustangs' defense honest.

"Our hitters are starting to become a threat," Short said. "Jill is just so consistent. We set to her in the back row. We set to her everywhere."

Tasha Gillies, who has stymied foes with her serve all season, came off the bench to provide another lift from the back row.

Beating Page isn't out of the realm of possibility either, Short said. The second-place Sand Devils had to work to top Mingus 15-8, 15-13 and 15-9, 15-9 in last weekend's season-ending doubleheader.

Like Sinagua, they have one big gun and several talented players in its supporting cast. "We're in the middle of formulating a plan to see if we can work around her," Short said of Page's star.

Region champion Coconino will play either Flagstaff or Chinle in the other semifinal. Mingus could make the state playoffs if they beat Page and Coconino wins its first contest.

If Mingus wins and Coconino loses, the Marauders would then need to claim the tournament title to get in as a number two seed. The state playoffs start Wednesday, with the number two seed traveling and the one seed hosting.

"There is a chance (for us)," Short said. "This is the absolute best draw we could have. Flagstaff just terrorizes us and Chinle is too athletic for us. I'm just happy for the girls we didn't end it Tuesday."

Short said he supports the league's decision to protect the regular season champion from losing its playoff seed in the tournament, even though it only leaves one other slot up for grabs.

"The number one team should be protected," he said. "Otherwise, the league (season) doesn't mean anything."

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