Safford High had the volleyball resume, the tradition. More than 20 state championships and a number of runner-up finishes, including 2012. And the Bulldogs were No. 1 in the most recent Division III power rankings posted by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
But Scottsdale Saguaro had a taller lineup and more of a desire to win, at least on Wednesday night (Oct. 23).
The result was somewhat simple to figure out when the teams met at Saguaro.
The No. 10 Sabercats jumped to a two-set lead, lost the third but came back in the fourth to win the match 25-12, 25-13, 17-25 and 25-20.
Saguaro picked up some valuable power points with a possibility of moving up when the new list was to be released at 10 a.m. on Thursday (Oct. 24).
“Maybe it will help give us enough points to qualify for state,’’ said Saguaro coach Shannan McClure.
It had been a long week for Saguaro, which had played several matches at a tournament in Florence. Safford also played in the event.
Safford recently lost its top player, 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter Jordan Abalos. Her absence affected the Bulldogs up front, but there was more to it than that, according to coach Janene Ward.
“Jordan was a big part of the team and she got injured. It is unfortunate, but it is what it is. You can’t erase that. You have to adjust and we didn’t adjust to their height tonight. We usually don’t play teams that big,’’ Ward said.
“The wheels fell off the car. We didn’t show up mentally. It wasn’t a physical defeat, it was a mental defeat.
“If it takes losing to motivate us, hopefully we will now be motivated.’’
Saguaro was bolstered by its main front-line group of 6-3 middle Jessica Reega, 5-10 outside hitter Sarah Davis, 5-10 junior India Neal and 5-10 junior Bethany Wedepohl. Isabelle Valdez, an up-and-coming freshman, provided some key serves.
“Our kids had the desire tonight,’’ McClure said. “All of our kids are vested in the same goals. Everybody is pulling together. It is the most selfless group I’ve had.’’
Saguaro blocked several Safford kill attempts.
“Our block was really strong,’’ McClure said. “When you do that, it frustrates the (opposing) hitters.
“This was a big win for us. I have so much respect for the Safford program.’’