Many times the first match of the season is a tough one for any team, and it was no different for the Mingus Union High School volleyball team.
And the Marauders [0-1] could not have had a more difficult first game, on the road in a region match at Bradshaw Mountain High School, losing 3-2. What made things even tougher was the fact that they led two sets to zero.
“We went into the Bradshaw game with confidence as it showed when we had the lead at 2-0,” Mingus head coach Chelsea Chavez said. “Something any team struggles with is that they get comfortable when they are winning and that is exactly what happened to us, we opened the door for Bradshaw to take the lead.”
The two teams faced off in the Marauders’ opener last year. That time in Cottonwood the Bears rallied from two games down to win by the same score.
By season’s end the Marauders finished in a tie for fifth in the Grand Canyon Region with a 3-9 record, one spot ahead of the 1-11 Bears.
Chavez said that in the first two sets the Marauders forced Bradshaw Mountain to make mistakes. They won a tight first set 26-24 before a more one-sided win in the second, 25-14.
But the host Bears turned the tables on the visitors to snatch away the victory.
They handed the Marauders a 14-25 defeat of their own in the third. Then they took the fourth set 20-25 and the decisive fifth ended 12-15.
Mingus could not put together many strong attacks, spending more time chasing the ball than staying organized. Service errors were an issue, too.
“The girls will not let this loss define them. They are a great team, they know it, they just need to relax and go out and play Mingus volleyball,” Chavez said.
The advantage that Mingus will have before the two teams clash again is experience. It will have three more weeks of practice and matches, making for a more prepared team.
Until then, Chavez will put the players through drills and situations to address the problems they faced against the Bears.
Along the way to the rematch the Marauders have four head-to-head matches, including a home region match against rival Flagstaff High School, and a tournament.
The team accumulated five service aces, nine digs and 16 kills in the match.
They traveled to 4A Saguaro High School on Tuesday, Sept. 5, but results were unavailable at press time. Their next game is the home opener, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, against Dysart High School.