The Roughriders volleyball team victory tour included wins over the Wildkats, Bulldogs and Apaches all in one week. Last night they finished with the Eagles.
First, Pima went on the road to play the higher-ranked Duncan Wildkats on their home turf and walked away a winner with a 3-0 match victory with wins of 25-16, 25-18 and 25-19.
Second, Pima was ready to pull off the shocker against number-one ranked Safford, in an out-of-division matchup. Without Jordan Abalos, its star player on the court, in the first game, the Roughriders edged out the Bulldogs 25-23.
In the second game, Abalos was in but was still recuperating from an illness during the first of the week, and the Roughriders won it 25-16. Safford came back in the third game to win it by the score of 20-25, but Pima was hot and on a roll.
In another close game, the Roughriders girls closed out the match by a score of 25-20 and pulled off the victory in front of a jubilant home crowd.
After the game head coach Jerry Hekekia said he was very proud of his girls for playing smart and hard.
“We played well, served good and every girl had a good game,” Hekekia said.
This was the biggest emotional win for the Roughriders girls of the season and in recent memory, and the upset of Safford will be one that will not be soon be forgotten.
Thursday, Oct. 4, found the Roughriders on the road again, this time to play the Apaches during their homecoming week.
The Fort Thomas girls had a win on their mind and played Pima tough early in game one. There were ties at 2-2, 3-3 and 7-7. That’s when coach Hekekia saw that his team was going through the motions and lacked enthusiasm and started to motivate them.
The Roughriders started to pull away when they were up by a score of 9-10, and Fort Thomas did not score another point until it was 10-15 and 11-15. Then Pima went on a scorching run eight-point run to make the score 11-23. The Roughriders finished off the Apaches in game one, 14-25.
Early in game two, Pima was hot and went up by a score of 1-6 over Fort Thomas but the Apaches came storming back to tie at 10-10, 11-11 and 12-12. The Apaches stayed on the trail of the Roughriders, never letting them get more than four points up on them to 17-19. That’s when Pima pulled back in front by five points 17-22.
The Roughriders finished out game two by beating the Apaches by the score of 19-25.
In game three it was all Pima after some motivational coaching by Hekekia. This was the Roughrider team that beat Safford the previous night but the Fort Thomas girls had to fight for every point and there were many long volleys in the game. In the end, however, Pima was just too much for the Fort Thomas girls to handle. Pima won the game by the score of 14-25 and the match in three games.
Even though Pima won, the Fort Thomas squad showed it could play tough against the taller Roughriders. The Apache setters did their usual outstanding job, and there were some excellent aces, kills and defensive blocks by Fort Thomas.
After the game coach, Hekekia talked about the past week’s matches, starting with Duncan. “Our girls were really on. We were ranked sixth in the state, and they were ranked number two. It seems like you always get up for somebody who is higher,” Hekekia said. “Then, when we played Safford, they were ranked number one in the state. I told the girls they are good team, we’ve got nothing to lose. Lets go play ball and have fun.”
Coach Hekekia explained how and why his team beat Safford. “We did everything well. We served the ball well: had great passes and the hitters hit the ball. Overall, we played very well and were hot,” Hekekia said.
There was a difference between the Roughriders girls against Safford and then against Fort Thomas. “We were there talking and jabbering and cheering, and tonight they just put a zip on in it. I made more noise than they did,” Hekekia said.
The Roughriders will off their latest southeastern Arizona high school tour last night. “Tuesday, we play Thatcher. We’ll be fine; we’ll play respectable,” Hekekia said.
Who’s the best volleyball team in southeast Arizona according to Hekekia? “Safford to me, because when we played, Safford had one girl who had a broken finger. Jordan Abalos was sick, and they did not have Shelby Apodaca, so there was the difference,” he said.
“But it’s a coin toss between Safford and Thatcher. Safford won the first two and Thatcher the next three, and that’s hard to do. Thatcher showed confidence and determination,” Hekekia said about the Safford/Thatcher game that the Eagles won on their home court.
Of course, Pima is in a different division but has set itself up to run the Gila Valley volleyball table. Check out the Sports Box Saturday to see who won between Pima or Thatcher.
This year’s Pima varsity volleyball team includes Jessica Taylor, Cassidy Goodman, Kelby Brown, Kailee Kay, Kaila Blair, Rachel Bolinger, Kayla Valles, Janae Hancock, Callie Thygerson, Briana Bevs and Jenna Judd.
This years Fort Thomas varsity volleyball squad includes: Eva Duncan, Stacey Goseyan, Sharaya Hinton, Kendra McCabe, Cheyenne Hinton, Anissa Juan, Jamie Moses, Denita Moses, Shanice Preston, Shanniah Dona, Blessing Duncan and Shaylee Quade. They are coached by Laree Green.