It’s not officially a 24 team tournament but for all intents and purposes, Tuesday’s game was a playoff game for the Safford Lady Bulldogs. The top 8 teams get a bye into the State Tournament, numbers 9-24 have to “play in” to the tournament. Safford drew the #13 seed and matched up with #20 Window Rock.
Safford came into the game on a nice winning streak, not having lost a power point match since October 10th in Thatcher.
Safford only trailed set 1 – 1-0 to Window Rock – before taking control and never giving up the lead to a 25-19 win. The Lady Bulldogs rode the right arm of Jessica Bright-Schade and Abigail Tellez to overpower the Lady Scouts’ block.
Brooke Lucas and Rachel Fox found their rhythm and their height bothered Window Rock with multiple kills and blocks. Safford jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead before Window Rock battled back to take a 10-9 lead on a Aliyah Freeman kill. The teams traded points until Safford settled down with a 13-12. They wouldn’t give up the lead the rest of the set and a Window Rock service error ended the set, 25-19 Bulldogs.
Window Rock showed some energy to start set 3 and took a 4-0 lead on four straight Safford errors. Safford fought back and forced Window Rock into sloppy errors of their own and a Deion Abalos kill gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the set, 8-7. Safford extended their lead to 3 after a Window Rock arrant serve but found the set tied at 15 after a Jana Solee block for the Lady Scouts. Safford’s lead grew to 4 points at 20-16 after a Fox block. Back and forth it went until Bright-Schade powered down the final kill of the match and a 25-23 win for Safford.
The Lady Bulldogs advance to the 3A State Playoffs under Head Coach Sheri Camarena in her first season.
“We were sloppy in game 3, we have to clean that up if we want to advance at state,” said Camarena after the game. “We are peaking at the right time, it’s been fun to watch them mature.”
There was one upset in the play in round as #12 Page was beat by Benjamin Franklin in 5 sets, which means Safford is now the #12 seed and will play #5 Arizona College Prep at 9am on Friday morning at Camelback High School.