The 2011 version of the Mingus Union High School volleyball team will be different from the last few years of competition.
Mingus has a new coach in Brian Herman, who was the assistant under longtime Head Coach Audrey Islas for three years. He was hired over the summer and is looking to bring the Marauders to the next level.
Mingus graduated several seniors last May including Amanda Randolph, Lashea Taylor, Kayla Dixon and Jessica Zaske. They were the cream of the crop in 2010, leaving this year’s squad with plenty of questions to answer and a lot to prove.
Mingus’ schedule is a little different than in the past, playing in Division III [Section I] within the new Arizona Interscholastic Association alignment.
In 2010, the Marauders finished the season with a 9-9 overall record and were 5-3 in the 4A-II Grand Canyon region.
Although the region technically doesn’t exist this season, Mingus still has old region rivals Coconino and Flagstaff high schools on the docket for 2011.
Mingus was swept by Amphitheater High School in the first round of the 4A-II conference state playoffs in November 2010, 3-0. Again, the 4A-II no longer exists, as the AIA traded it for Division III.
Nevertheless, this year’s group is looking to succeed and continue making the state playoffs, something the program has accomplished in the last three seasons.
Top returners for Mingus include seniors Cortlin Sandoval, Sheila Brown, Vanessa Vera and Taylor Brott.
Sandoval returns as libero while Brown and Brott will take turns at right outside hitter. Vera should be the defensive specialist for Mingus when the season gets under way Tuesday, Aug. 30, at cross-valley rival Camp Verde High School.
Three juniors return as well for the Marauders in Kalina Boysen, Delaney Scanlan and Bailey Mabery. Boysen is by far the best middle blocker for the Marauders while Scanlan should be the top setter on the team. Mabery will find her way at outside hitter this season.
Sophomore Angel Chavez returns after a stellar freshman campaign in 2010. Chavez should be the top left outside hitter for the Marauders this season according to Herman.
“Angel [Chavez] isn’t real big, but she hits it really hard,” Herman said. “As for Delaney [Scanlan], she is an incredible setter and she gets better and better every day.”
When asked what he thought his team’s strengths were so far in the first week and a half of practice, Herman reported the hitting for the Marauders is strong.
“We look pretty strong hitting, but we’re weak in the middle right now which is why we have two sophomores at that position. For the long run, having two young girls there will help us out but they have to improve every day,” Herman said.
As for the schedule, Herman believes this year’s list is much tougher than last year with two matches against Prescott High School, Sedona Red Rock High School and Flagstaff this season.
“We usually only play those teams once, but this year, we get to see them twice,” Herman said.
Other tough teams the Marauders will see this season include Bradshaw Mountain and Cactus Shadows high schools.
“We play a few teams outside of our division so I’m not sure if it’s going to help us or hurt us. I think it will be beneficial to us because we’ll see tougher teams right away, so we’ll be ready if we make the playoffs,” Herman said.
After the Camp Verde match on Aug. 30, Mingus plays host to Prescott on Thursday, Sept. 1, in its home opener. Official start time is set for 6 p.m.