SAFFORD — Safford lost to the 3A state runner-up in 2018, but that’s only given the Lady Bulldogs a focus to hone their skills, produce more wins and, hopefully, a championship.

Head coach Sheri Camarena said, “We had an awesome group of girls last year, and this year we also have an awesome group of girls that work well together. We have a lot of good seniors who are leaders, but a couple have stood out skillswise and leadership-wise. One of them is Jessica Bright-Schade with her athletic ability and her ability to get up there and pound that ball. She could also be setting. She did some setting last year, and we’re hoping to mix that up a little bit so she can do more hitting and play defense.

“CeAirra (Bowman) has always been a silent leader, but during our Gold Medal camp, she really came out as a leader, talking to the girls and being an example for what they’re supposed to be doing. She’s working hard and she’s here every day. She’s become more vocal as well, helping her teammates keep her head in the moment.”

Bright-Schade said, “I’ve had a great experience on the volleyball team with one coach for two years and a new coach for the last two years. I’m excited and looking forward to it. Last season went fairly well and we all got along as a team, and we’re working even better than last year. I will just try and help everybody work as a team, be nice to each other and lifting each other up, and making sure no one’s down on the court. That way, we can play better.”

Cambry Cluff said, “We’ve worked together as a team. No individual stands out. We all come together. We’ve done a lot of work during the summertime with camps and open gyms. I think that’s really going to help us during the season. This is probably the hardest we’ve worked. It’s kept us in really good shape for sure and helped up jell together. It was hard. We have a good middle. She’s scary. She can block.”

Bearing 2018 in mind, Camarena sees what the Lady Bulldogs need to make it to the championship round. “It all starts with passing and serving. We have to be good passers, and we have to have those good serves. We also have to have the kills. We need all aspects of the game to go together as a team. We’re working on individuals and how to be a real good, positive team and work together and hold each other accountable. I think that’ll show on the court.”

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