What’s up at Corona? 2 shut outs power football team to 4-0 start

Corona del Sol High’s football team, for years an also-ran, hits the season midpoint a perfect 4-0 thanks to a balanced offense and stingy defense. –Tempe Union High School District photo

Sports Notebook

What’s up at Corona del Sol High?

Alex Zener

The Aztecs’ football team, for years an also-ran, reaches the midpoint of their delayed eight-game season this week a perfect 4-0, their longest streak in five years, after routing Mesa, 52-7.

Their only close game was a 28-24 come-from-behind thriller over Basha when Bryce Douglass caught a 20-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute left from quarterback Quade Swearingen.

Otherwise they’ve won by a couple of lopsided shut outs (28-0 over Desert Vista and 35-0 over Skyline) before pulverizing Mesa.

Corona has climbed to No. 11 in the state in 6A and has a legitimate chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

The Aztecs have to be feeling good about how they have started the season, especially their seniors, who have endured some difficult years during their careers.

To continue to win, Swearingen, who averages 172 yards passing, must continue his accuracy to a bevy of receivers.

Senior Jake Schmitt is the leader with 14 receptions for 229 yards followed by fellow senior Douglass, with 12 catches for 166 yards.

It is imperative that the Aztec continue playing a balanced game by moving the ball on the ground to complement passes by Swearingen. Corona del Sol averages 222 yards rushing and 182 yards passing.

Junior Anyale Velazquez (596 yards) is the team rushing leader. Also critical is help from senior Scott Musgrave (113 rushing yards).

The stingy defense that yields 7.8 points a game starts with senior Tudor Georgescu, who has been incredible breaking through the opposing teams’ offensive lines (team-leading 26 tackles, including four for lost yards). He leads the Aztecs with four sacks.

Directly behind Georgescu are Schmitt (21 tackles) and junior Jeff Lambert (19).

Senior Colton Mealer is second on the team in quarterback sacks with 2.5.

Jack Farley, a senior, is the interceptions leader with two.

Aztec’s kicker, sophomore Colton Kieffer, is 20 for 20 in point-after-kicks.

Upcoming for the Aztecs are three home games: Mountain Pointe on Oct. 30, Dobson on Nov. 5 and Westwood on Nov. 13, before the regular-season finale Nov. 20 at Mountain View.

 

Corona girls volleyball

Corona del Sol High’s girls volleyball team, with a 7-4 record in the delayed 2020 season, is young, with two freshmen and three sophomores playing key roles.

They are expected to mature and improve, but until they do, the leadership that is critical to their success as they approach the playoffs falls to senior teammates Anna Jackson, Toni Berns, Isabel Niemtschk, Mia Lomigora, and Izzy Solano.

Jackson, an outside hitter, sets a good example on the court for the younger players by starting all 26 sets this season and being the kills leader on the team, averaging 3.4 a set. Jackson also is the leading server, with 16 aces in 74 service attempts, a 21.6 percentage.

Berns has played in 24 sets as a defensive specialist and also has a good serve record. She is the third-leading server on the team with 12 aces, a 15.2 percentage, and averages more than two digs a set.

Niemtschk has played in all 26 sets as a middle blocker, which is among the most physically demanding positions in volleyball. She has 11 blocks, ranking third on the team.

Lomigora plays defensive specialist for the Aztecs. Her younger sister, 6-foot-3-inch sophomore Ella Lomigora, is playing her second year on varsity as a middle blocker.

The Lomigora sisters are first-generation Americans, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Bosnia in 1995. The sisters are bilingual, often speaking Bosnian on the court. They keep their Bosnia roots intact by visiting relatives in their parent’s homeland frequently.

Last season, Ella played in 126 sets, amassing 155 kills and 134 blocks, 29 solo and 105 assisted. This season, she is off to a great start in all 26 sets, with 58 kills and 44 total blocks. Her next-closest competitor is Jackson with 14 total blocks.

Freshman Julia Owens plays a major role in Corona’s offense that utilizes two setters, in what is known as a 6-2 system. The 5-1, where five hitters and one setter play for all six rotations, is more common in high school volleyball. In the 5-1, the setter never comes out. In the 6-2, each setter rotates in to play only in the back row, thus leaving three hitters and blockers on the front row at all times. This system, therefore, has six hitters and two different setters, depending on where they are in the rotation.

Setter is among the hardest positions to perfect. Corona has two new setters this season, Owens, and junior setter Taylor Erickson, who have both played in all 26 sets. They are responsible for giving their hitters the best possible chance to score a kill. Owens is the assist leader with 119, or 4.6 assists per set, with only two ball handling errors, while Erickson has 108 assists, 4.2 per set.

The other freshman, 6-foot-1 Maggie Beauer, plays opposite or outside hitter for the Aztecs. She has seen action in 14 sets, recording eight kills and nine blocks.

The last newcomer is sophomore Maddie Kamolz, who has played defensive specialist in 21 sets and is credited with 12 digs and four aces.

Other members of Corona’s team, which hopes to make it into the 6A playoffs that start Nov. 10, are team captain and libero Angie Bour and several juniors: outside hitter Kacie Webb, outside hitter Sydney Meyer, opposite hitter Reese Manross, middle blocker Heather Heimlich, setter Anita Babic and middle blocker Natalie Meyer.

Bour, as libero, has the main responsibility for digging and passing balls to the setter to set up Corona’s hitters. She has dug the ball 116 times playing in 26 sets for an average of 4.5 digs. In addition, Bour has recorded 13 service aces, just one ahead of Berns, for an ace percentage of 12.

Sydney Meyer and Webb rank third in kills for the Aztecs with 41 each. Meyers accumulated hers in just 13 sets for an average of 3.2. Webb averages 1.6 kills a set.

Webb is second on the team in digs with 62, or an average of 2.4 a set, which is second only to Bour, while Manross has played in 20 sets, recording 16 kills and 13 digs.

Corona topped Queen Creek at home on Oct. 20, 3-0, after beating it 3-2 on Sept. 29.

The Aztecs then fell to Desert Vista, 3-0, on Oct. 22.

Their final two matches in October are at home against Mountain Pointe on Oct. 27 and at Sunnyslope on Oct. 28.

 

Marcos de Niza girls volleyball

Marcos de Niza has an experienced team with six seniors and two juniors carrying the load.

Senior Hailey White leads the team in kills, averaging 3.3 a set, followed by three players with four kills each: seniors Olivia Craig and Kelsi Dewaard and junior Emma Orndorf.

Senior Sara Hambleton leads the team in blocks.

Seniors Kaitlin Brakefield and Audrey Mayer, along with junior Kenzie Underwood, provide digging support.

Other members of the team include senior defensive specialist Jayda Reynolds, senior outside hitter Gianna Sanchez, senior outside hitter Abby Alvarado, sophomore defensive specialist Zoey Arner, and sophomore outside hitter Celest Rivas.

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