Girl’s Volleyball: Empire takes control with 3-2 win at Catalinaby Andy Morales on Oct. 10, 2013, under Sports
Empire takes control with 3-2 (25-15, 20-25, 19-25, 25-11, 15-7) win at Catalina
The way things are shaping up in the Division III volleyball rankings, only the top two teams from Section II will make it to the girl’s playoffs. Empire, at 5-0 in sectional play, appears to be in the driver’s seat for one of the spots after they defeated Catalina Thursday night and Sahuarita on October 3.
The Trojans were riding a four-game win streak during sectional play but they lost in five sets to the Ravens to drop their record to 4-1. Sahuarita (5-1) is now battling Catalina for the second spot in the section. Sahuarita will host Catalina on October 17.
Empire sprinted out to a 10-1 lead in the first set but Catalina stormed back to get to within 10-7 thanks to the play of Lauren Lancaster and Emily Wellhouse. Empire went on to win the set 25-15 but the back-and-forth scoring runs was indicative of what was to come.
Wellhouse finished with a game-high 22 kills and she took control of the second set to help build a 21-10 lead but Empire came back thanks to several aces from Macee Owen. Catalina’s lead dwindled to 23-20 but Wellhouse ended the set with a kill for the 25-20 win.
Catalina went up 10-3 in the third set but Empire senior Kelsey Smith came up with four of her 9 kills to help take the lead at 16-14. Owen would tie the set at 18-18 and she would put down two more kills to help put it away 25-19.
Down 2-1, Empire took control of the fourth set easily for the 25-11 win to force a fifth and final set. Things didn’t look good for Empire in the fifth after Catalina took a 4-1 lead but Owen came up with three kills and two aces to help put Empire up 8-4.
Lancaster and Wellhouse were held to one kill each in the deciding set but Empire kept on rolling and Stephanie Stevens picked up three kills and Alexis Roether came up with the game-winner to give Empire the 15-7 victory.
Owen finished with 9 kills and 21 digs for Empire. Owen has spent the last three years in Enid, Oklahoma before returning to the Tucson area. She helped contribute to Enid’s state volleyball championship in the academic division last fall.
Oklahoma awards state championships to the teams with the highest GPA’s in the regional tournaments and Enid came in with an impressive team GPA of 3.971.
“I’ve only been back for two months,” said Owen. “We have really picked it up as our season went on.”
Owen told me she tends to fight more when she feels the pressure which explains her game-changing performance in the fifth set.
Skylar Duhon had 14 digs, Stevens added 8 kills and 15 digs and Kayla Long finished with 30 assists for the Ravens.
Smith matched Owen with 9 kills. One of the top softball players in the state last year, Smith has committed to play softball for East Tennessee State next year to become the second (See NOTE below) Empire female athlete to commit to a NCAA D-I school. Smith, along with Stevens, was named to the Falcon Invite All-Tournament Team last week.
Catalina is in good hands with former Salpointe standout Scott Tunnell at the helm after the departure of legendary coach Heather Moore-Martin to Salpointe this past summer. It is easy to see that the Trojans are well-coached.
Besides Wellhouse’s 22 kills, Lancaster added 12 and Judith Gramajo had 9 digs. Cassandra Amezquita had a game-high 38 assists. Also coming up big for the Trojans was Akina Lamb with a game-high 5 aces.
Empire will host Nogales (4-1) next Tuesday and Catalina will be playing in the Mountain View Lion’s Den Invite this coming weekend. They will start out with a match against Sabino tomorrow night. Invitational games do not count towards rankings.
Former Empire (2011) sprinter Aly Haskell is now competing for the University of Colorado. Haskell holds the Pima Outdoor school record in the 400 meter with a time of 56.32. She was also an Indoor All-American in the 600-meter race before getting a scholarship to run for Colorado this fall.
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