RODNEY HAAS and ASH FRIEDERICH
The Cienega High School boys volleyball team is picking up the pace in hopes of improving on its Class 4A/5A Division II state semifinal appearance in 2008.
The Bobcats used an uptempo approach Wednesday in beating host Rincon/University 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-19).
“This is one of the first games we’ve come out and played with a fast-pace, higher-intensity game,” Cienega coach Tyler Taylor said.
After dropping the first game, Cienega took an early lead and never looked back. Game 3 featured a damaging 12-3 Cienega run, leading to a 25-18 win.
In the fourth and decisive game, Cienega closed out with a 9-5.
“I made sure to tell them that after a lead and after our Game 3 win to make sure they focus and they had to make sure they closed the door,” Taylor said.
Rincon still hopes to make a postseason run in its first year under coach Seth Rochlin.
“I was really lucky that I inherited a really good team (from Juanita Kingston),” Rochlin said.
Dax Hall has made the most of his three home runs this season; each was a grand slam.
Hall’s shot in the fourth inning Wednesday blew open a close game as visiting Sahuarita beat Catalina 7-3 to snap the Trojans’ nine-game winning streak.
With Sahuarita ahead 2-1, Hall drove the first pitch from Nico Blank over the left-center field wall for a 6-1 lead.
“I just jumped on it,” Hall said. “I was given the green light (by coach Sam Gelardi) . . . and when one person hits, we all hit.”
Brandon Crim took a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall to give Sahuarita (15-5, 4-1) a 1-0 lead. Crim finished 2 for 3, adding a double in the fifth that drove home a run to put Sahuarita up 7-2.
“It was a good game all the way around and I thought we were fortunate enough to get the big home run,” Gelardi said. “I told (Hall) to swing at the first fastball he sees that’s good and try to drive it. He’s a free swinger and he can look like a third-grader swinging the bat, but on the next pitch he’s going to put one 400 feet.”
Catalina (15-5, 2-1) tied the game in the third when Gerry Soto scored as Frankie Daniel reached first on an error.
“We expected Sahuarita to play hard. Top to bottom, our conference is as good as it gets,” Catalina coach Tony Gabusi said. “We just didn’t answer. We needed to come to play and we have eight more chances to get better and move ourselves up in the standings.”
Anthony Romero led Catalina, going 2 for 3, hitting a homer in the fourth and doubling in a run in the sixth.