November 2, 2004
Despite a nine-day layoff, the Corona del Sol volleyball team didn’t miss a beat in its 25-23, 25-16 win over the Horizon Huskies in the opening round of the 5A state volleyball tournament.
Because of AIMS testing and changes to the Central Region tournament, the Aztecs did not play a match in the past week and a half and had to use six straight days of practice to prepare for the meeting with the Huskies.
"I’m just glad my girls were able to play tough and just get their job done," Corona head coach Janna Corbett said.
The win for Corona was its third in four matches this year against Horizon.
While the Aztecs started the first game slightly rusty, they soon found the way they played to win the regular season Central title. Kills by Michelle Hein and Joy Peschman gave the Aztecs a 15-12 lead in the opening game and forced the Huskies to use a timeout.
Despite trailing 22-18, Horizon found a way to claw back and took a 23-22 lead. The slim margin was short-lived as the Aztecs scored the next three points, ending with a Shauna Niemann ace to win the opening game 25-23.
"We had the momentum when we came back in that first game and we let it go," said Horizon head coach Valorie McKenzie. "It was a tough match, a tough loss."
The Aztecs used strong blocking, one of their guiding principles this season, to carry them against the much larger Horizon middle and outside hitters.
McKenzie said the Aztecs beat her players in every defensive area.
For Corona, Niemann led all players with five blocks and Aubrey Pancratz added three more.
"We really had to stay on our block to get a good block on them," Corbett said.
In the second game, the Aztecs were jump-started by the senior middle blocker Pancratz, who finished the match with six kills. Corbett said the 6-foot Pancratz always keeps her teammates in the game and is like having a coach on the floor.
"Aubrey’s a great player. She motivates. She’s always smiling and she always gets the job done," Corbett said.
With the win, the Aztecs will face the defending state champion and Fiesta Region winner Gilbert Tigers on the road.
This season, the Aztecs have twice met the Tigers, losing both times.
Corbett said her team is ready for the match and believes the key to stopping Gilbert is shutting down their big hitter, Jessica Elley.
"We’re going to do our best to play her and I’m sure her team is going to help her out just as much as we are trying to make it a long night for them," Corbett said.
5A state volleyball Today
Second round at higher seed 7 p.m.: Deer Valley at Desert Vista; Westwood vs. Desert Mountain; Salpointe vs. Mesa; Mesquite at Cesar Chavez; Corona del Sol at Gilbert; Flowing Wells vs. Mountain View; Mountain Ridge vs. Canyon del Oro; Xavier at Ironwood.
4A state volleyball Today
Second round at higher seed 7 p.m.: Buckeye at Sunnyslope; Greenway at Chaparral; Agua Fria at Prescott; Cortez at Sinagua; Page at Millennium; Washington at Cactus Shadows; Arcadia at Catalina Foothills; Centennial at Ironwood Ridge