Aztec JV girls volleyball: ‘Exceptional’

The 2010 Lady Aztecs JV girls volleyball team has been further honing their volleyball and team skills during the season to hopefully be ready to participate at the next level in 2011, which is the main purpose for freshman and JV teams in any sport.

This year’s team has been exceptional, though, with a 14-1 record heading into the final two games of the season. The only team to defeat Corona was Xavier and the only other team to take a set from the Lady Aztecs was Desert Vista who lost to Corona 2-1.

Corona’s success may be due to what coach Dan Salas calls “mental management” during the game.

“The players have really all gained confidence in themselves to turn negative plays around quickly, into positive results,” said Salas. “Understanding and being prepared to make a mistake and mentally battle out of it is one of the key components to our success.”

The team is fantastic on offense, for the JV level, when their focus, passing, tempo and timing are at the top level according to Salas. The team also has so many good players that part of the team’s success may be attributed to competition for playing time.

Some of these players include middle blockers sophomore Caroline Trent and junior Erin Miller whose success dictates the success of the Lady Aztec’s outside hitters, junior Ashley Molina, sophomore Kraymer Johnson and junior Haley Shaughnessy according to Salas.

“Caroline Trent has really come into her own as perhaps the best offensive middle in the region, at the JV level,” said Salas. “Ashley Molina has worked incredibly hard and is also a top outside hitter in the region.” 

“Opposite hitter, sophomore Kaitlyn Martin has really been one of the team’s most consistent players and is a great floor leader,” said Salas. “Kaitlyn started the season at libero, but she’s such a good all-around player, that she fit better for us at opposite.” 

Sophomore setter Patrice Moritz orchestrates the offense to make it all happen but her success and the team’s triumphs depends a great deal on the passing efficiency of the defense.

“Patrice does a great job of never getting her sets too high or too low for the hitter,” said Salas. “She’s developed a good feel for the game and the attitude of our team but most importantly her confidence as a leader has improved.”

The defense is a total team effort that relies on communication and anticipation, according to Salas, but often falls to a team’s libero and defensive specialists.

“Sophomore Brianne Keller-Galley, our libero has really improved our ‘center of the court’ presence,” said Salad. “She reads the game well and keeps the team in many close games with not only her passing, but with her serving consistency.”

“Sophomores Kaileen Fei, Mallory Autrey, Madison Ruditys, and junior Megan Volin have stepped in to provide consistent passing and keeping us in close games by making plays,” said Salas.

Salas is counting on his team to stay motivated and on track to finish the season without losing another match. He would like the only regret to be Corona’s loss in their first match of the season against Xavier.

Badminton

After a rebuilding year last season, Corona’s badminton team was back on track to make hopefully go far in the 5A state tournament as a team and for individual players under the new AIA State Tournament regulations.

“I had high expectations for the state tournament for both the individual and team tournament,” said first year head coach Katie Kelly. “The girls had worked really hard all season to ensure their success at the tournament, and I thought that they would do great.”

Unfortunately, Corona’s singles players, Emma Reeve and Christine Tang, entered the Oct. 15 state 5A singles tournament unseeded.

Reeve made in into the third round before being defeated by the No. 5 seed, G. Ramirez from Greenway. Reeve had a bye in the first round and soundly defeated unseeded Z. Schwartz of Perry High School 11-0, 11-1.

Tang defeated Sunnyslope’s K. Espericueta in the first round before facing the No. 3 ranked S. Vermillion of Millennium, who not only defeated Tang but made it all the way to the singles 5A quarterfinals scheduled Oct. 23.

Corona’s doubles teams did not disappoint coach Kelly. In the first rounds of the 5A doubles tournament, Oct. 15, Corona’s Nicole Schwalbe and Rachel Gur-Arie were the No. 6 seeded team, out of 92 teams. Schwalbe and Gur-Aire won all their matches the first day and will play in the quarterfinals Oct. 23 at 1:00 p.m. against Chandler’s No. 3 seeded doubles team at Independence High School.

If they win in the quarterfinals, Schwalbe and Gur-Arie would face either unseeded Chaparral or unseeded Mountain Pointe at 2:30 p.m. on the same day also at Independence.

Corona’s other doubles team, Rikki Gurule and Alexis Emerson, did well in the first rounds, making it to the fourth round before they were defeated by the No. 5 Gilbert team.

The 5A state team tournament started Oct. 18 with Corona coming in as the No. 4 seed behind Xavier, Chaparral, and Mountain Pointe. Coach Kelly was predicting a top five finish but concedes that all teams they may play in the state team tournament could be tough.

The Lady Aztecs started off defeating No. 13 Desert Mountain in the first round on Corona’s home court.

Next up was No. 5 Millennium in the quarterfinals.

If they defeat Millennium, the Lady Aztecs faced No. 1 Xavier Oct. 20 are Horizon High School.

Girl’s Golf

Corona’s girls golf team is on track for another top five finish in the state 5A tournament held Oct. 29-30 at the Del Urich golf course in Tucson, even with the new AIA regulations, according to head coach Pat Reed.

Her No. 1 golfer, Dana Finkelstein, has not faltered all season and has become the stable piece of Corona’s team according to Reed. Alex Haun has also improved her game over the season, finishing in the top ten at the Prescott Invitational in late Sept.

“If Dana can place in the top five at state, Alex in the top 15, and if Halie Carpenter, Brooke Taylor and Gabby Bochenek can score in the 80’s, we have a great chance to finish in third place ahead of Chaparral and Salpointe,” said Reed.

Swimming

Corona’s swim and dive team has two meets left to qualify for the state 5A meet under the new AIA regulations: Mesa’s Last Chance Meet Oct. 23 and the City Dive and Swim Meet Oct. 27-28.

The only Corona diver to automatically qualify for the state meet is freshman Chloe Hacker who currently stands at the top of the leader board and has a great chance to take first place in the 5A-I state meet.

With the new AIA rules, swimmers in each event must meet a certain time to automatically and provisionally qualify to swim in the state meet. Only the top 24 times or marks will qualify. An individual not in the top 24 can still compete if a top 24 swimmer doesn’t compete.

A few individual Corona swimmers and relay teams are currently listed as provisional or in the top 24 in an event but ones toward the bottom of the ranking could easily be beat out by another swimmer in the next two weeks.

The boys team has one individual qualifier, Clay Meschke, who is No. 8 in the 100 Backstroke and No. 19 in the 200 Individual Medley who will no doubt swim in the state meet as will Emily Lewandowski, who is currently No. 6 in the 100 Breaststroke. The only other individual girl swimmer is Taylor Thorn currently provisionally ranked in the 100 Backstroke (20) and the 100 Butterfly (23).

Several Corona relay teams are currently in the top 24 including the boys 200 Freestyle (21), 200 Medley (23) and 400 Freestyle (16) and the girls 200 Medley (13) and the 400 Freestyle (15).

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