More than any on-court changes or improvements from the last time Mingus Union High School volleyball faced off with Grand Canyon Region rival Bradshaw Mountain High School, desire and mental toughness played a big part in the match on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
It translated into a 3-1 [25-5, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19] victory for the Marauders [2-5, 1-3]. It also marked their first region win of the season. The first time around, on Aug. 29, they were leading 2-0 before falling 3-2 to the Bears.
“The girls obviously had a vendetta with Bradshaw from the last game,” Mingus head coach Chelsea Chavez said. “We had a long talk yesterday about mental toughness, how we talk to ourselves ... and they just brought it all out onto the court today. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to show up tonight.”
Mingus started off in dominant fashion, taking game one 25-5 behind eight assists from sophomore setter Olivia Gordon, five kills from junior outside hitter Lindsey Jones and a pair of service aces from senior middle hitter Madi Backus. Senior middle blocker Julian Smyda also had four blocks.
Tied at 3-3, the Marauders tore off a 12-0 run to put the game out of question.
The wide margin was somewhat deceiving since Mailani Manuel, Bradshaw Mountain’s top outside hitter, did not play. Manuel is committed to NCAA Division I University of Hawaii.
Game two was back-and-forth, but Mingus never trailed en route to a 25-19 victory. It was knotted at 14 before senior right side Katelyn Prouty made it 15-14. Bradshaw Mountain tied it again, then Marauders senior outside hitter Nikki Zielinski got a kill and Backus another service ace to create a two-point cushion en route to the win.
Smyda, at 6 feet 1 inch, stood out among the middles in patrol at the net throughout.
“I think it was more energy than we had in the last several games we’ve had this whole year, and there was more of a push and everyone was really in it,” Smyda said.
Mingus was up two sets to zero, and memories of the comeback defeat from last time were there. They were solidified when the Bears took game three 23-25.
In that game the Marauders led 12-10 by way of a Prouty kill, but Bradshaw Mountain answered with a 6-2 run. It was tied at 19-19 and 22-22, but a hitting error gave the Bears the leg up before finishing the game off.
“They knew that they were going to come back, so they knew they had to keep pushing and pushing,” Chavez said. “It’s finally clicking for them but they still need a lot of work on mental toughness.”
And the mental toughness showed in game four.
Mingus started up 5-1. Manuel, just as her whole team, began to grow into the game. She turned a ball down the line to give her team the lead at 6-9, forcing a Marauders timeout.
A Bears hitting error conceded an 11-10 lead, and later on Jones forced a passing error to open a 17-14 lead. Manuel pounded home a kill, and Bradshaw Mountain climbed back into it at 18-18.
Jones compounded a Bradshaw Mountain hitting error with a kill before Zielinski sealed it with consecutive service aces.
“It was their desire to win changed more than anything. They wanted to win and they weren’t going to let it slip away from them,” Chavez said.
The Marauders traveled to Prescott High School for more region action, losing 0-3 to the Badgers on Thursday, Sept. 21.
NOTE: The Grand Canyon Region standings were updated on Tuesday, Sept. 26, after the deadline for the print edition.
Grand Canyon Region Standings
No. 7 Coconino 4-0 6-2
No. 9 Flagstaff 3-0 5-2
Prescott 3-1 4-3
Mohave 1-2 4-3
Bradshaw Mountain 1-3 3-5
Mingus 1-4 2-6
Lee Williams 0-3 5-3