Corona takes top honors at prestigious Westwood tournament

By Alex Zener

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Corona’s volleyball team won nine out of 10 tournament matches to be crowned champions at the prestigious 2022 Westwood Tournament of Champions Gold Bracket Sept. 9-10.
On the first day of the tournament during pool play, the Aztecs defeated McClintock, Williams Field, Northwest Christian and American Leadership Academy-–Gilbert North.

Front row, from left: Emma Uribe, Erin Clark, Julia Owens, Avery Lim. Back row: Geoff Horewitch, Kierstyn Barton, Georgia Lee, Ella Lomigora, Stacy Noble, Ben Maxfield. Missing: Kentra Harrell. Photo by Mirela Lomigora

With a slow start the second day of pool play, the Aztecs who entered the tournament with an 8-0 season record, lost to Sunnyslope in the first match.

Corona regrouped and went on to defeat Horizon, Valley Christian, Liberty and Gilbert before facing Sunnyslope again in the finals.

The Vikings kept it close in the first set of the finals only losing by four points, 25-21, but the Aztecs dominated in the second set leading 24-8 at one point before Sunnyslope rallied to make the final score 25-14.

Corona’s kill leader, outside hitter senior Kierstyn Barton, with 156 total kills so far this season or 4.9 kills a set, had eight kills in the finals and was named Westwood Tournament of Champions MVP.

In addition, Barton, with 89 digs is the third leading passer on the team right behind junior Maggie Beauer with 99 digs and sophomore Alyssa Aguayo with 96 digs.

“Kierstyn is doing a great job in all aspects of the game,” said head coach Ben Maxfield. “She has become one of our leading hitters, passers and defenders. We can always count on her to deliver a kill when needed.”

Senior middle blocker Ella Lomigora, at 6-foot-3, is an enormous contributor to Corona’s current 14-1 record. She tied Barton with eight kills in the championship finals match.

Lomigora, whose main defensive objective is to stop the ball from crossing the net along with help from the two hitters on either side of her, is particularly good at her job. She leads the team in blocks with 51 where 19 of those blocks were solo.

On offense, Lomigora is very efficient in attacking. She leads the team in hitting percentage at .451 racking up 2.8 kills a set for a current total of 93 kills, second on the team.

Lomigora does not just block and hit, she leads the team in service aces with 23, just ahead of Beauer with 21 and junior setter Julia Owens with 20. She also has 47 digs to her credit.
“Ella Lomigora is a tremendous leader both on and off the court,” said Maxfield. “Her blocking is second to none and she always works hard to put herself in a position to hit. Her serving has improved greatly and it is very tough on opposing teams to get a good pass receive off of her.”

Sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Aguayo, the third leading hitter on the team with 85 kills, is another notable young all-around player. She has consistently been among the top four statistic leaders in all categories including passing with three digs a set, serving with18 service aces and blocking with eight solo blocks out of 10 total.

“Alyssa, like Kierstyn, is a great hitter, passer and defender,” said Maxfield. “Alyssa brings a lot of power and control to her hitting, making very few errors. She is a quiet, steadying, presence on the court.”

Corona’s top hitters would not be as successful without the volleyball skills of junior setter Julia Owens who not only has 344 assists or 10.9 assists per set but is also third on the team with 20 service aces and fourth in both digs with 52 and blocks with 15.

“Julia had a fantastic tournament weekend!” said Maxfield. “She has really developed into a savvy setter, running a varied and diverse offense. She has taken on the role of a leader on the court which has made a significant difference in our success.”
Junior Maggie Beauer is another one of Corona’s hitters whose biggest contribution may be her defensive passing ability. She leads the team in digs with 99. In addition, she is second on the team with 21 service aces along with 43 kills and 17 blocks.
“Maggie reads the game really well and always plays calmly, not letting the stress of the moment affect her play,” said Maxfield. “Besides her defense, she scores loads of points for us through her hitting and blocking. She is very versatile, able to play with success on either pin.”

Freshman Erin Clark has taken on the responsibility of the libero position for the team and is currently leading the team in digs per set at 3.3.

“Erin did a great job this weekend anchoring the back row,” said Maxfield. “She has never played libero until this season (she’s also a setter), but she has great ball control in serve receive and reads the game really well, allowing her to dig up an impressive number of balls.

Additional members of Corona’s volleyball team include senior middle blocker Natalie Mantini who has played in 30 sets and is credited with 19 blocks, 14 digs and 17 kills, senior opposite hitter Ella Swansiger who is credited with 14 kills and 11 digs, senior middle blocker Kendra Harrel who has five kills and three blocks and senior outside hitter Maddie Cohen who has five aces and four digs.

Senior outside hitter Brianna Mitchell is a member of team along with senior setter Geogia Lee and senior defensive specialist Kacie Bikofsky who has played 19 sets and is credited with 57 digs and seven aces.

Other members of the team include sophomore defensive specialist Emma Uribe who has played in 10 sets and is credited with three kills, 10 digs and two aces along with freshman Avery Lim who has 24 assists, seven aces and nine digs playing in eight sets.

On Sept. 14, the Aztecs swept Desert Ridge in three straight sets, 25-13, 25-12 and 25-14.

On Sept. 20, Corona was scheduled to play Mountain View at home. Next the Aztecs were scheduled to play four more home games: Sept. 21 against Desert Vista; Sept. 22 against Highland; Sept. 27 against Gilbert; and Sept. 28 against Liberty.

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