Arizona state volleyball

Teams remain optimistic despite facing top seeds in opening rounds

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Nov. 7, 2013

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With 47 teams representing Arizona Division IV volleyball, Ganado coach Jerome Burns was pleased that his club was able to make the tournament field for this year's state tournament.

"It's always an honor to make the playoffs," Burns said on Tuesday. "I think it's harder to go into the postseason because of the size of our division. Only a third of teams get to play."

Because of that, Burns said it didn't bother him that his team earned the No. 15 seed despite winning their section with an 8-1 record.

"It is what it is and with the way the power points works we were not able to play teams in other sections," he said. "We just played teams in our section so I think it's a little harder to get power points in our favor."

The Hornets are scheduled to play No. 2 seed Veritas Prep at 7 p.m. tonight at Tim's Toyota Center.

"We haven't seen or heard from anybody about that team," Burns said of the Phoenix-based private school. "It's going to be a challenge but we're up for it."

Pinon, which earned the No. 14 seed, is on the same side of the bracket as Ganado. The Lady Eagles will open the tournament with No. 3 seed Sedona Red Rock.

In Division V, the Red Mesa Lady Redskins earned the No. 15 seed and they'll play No. 2 Desert Christian at 8 a.m. this morning.

"I was hoping for a higher spot," Red Mesa coach Henrietta Haven said. "Getting to state was one of our main goals. It would have been nice to get a lower seed but anything can happen at state."

Haven said she only has two players that have state experience from two years ago.

"Hopefully it's going to open some doors for our program as far as state appearances," Haven said. "We haven't gone to state on a consistent basis like we did back in 1998."

Also in Division V, the Shonto Prep Grizzlies will open its first state appearance with Glendale Prep at 10 a.m. this morning as a No. 12 seed.

In Division III, there is no denying that there are more contenders capable of winning this year's crown.

Tuba City coach Harlan Barlow had some reservations about how some of the teams were seeded as his club earned the No. 7 seed.

Last season, the Lady Warriors had a breakout year and captured its first state crown in volleyball with a senior dominated team. Tuba City opens this year's tournament with No. 10 Greenway next Friday at noon inside Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott, Ariz.

"This is going to be a tough tournament but I think the brackets is really lopsided," Barlow said. "The power ranking was real crazy this year because I thought there were some other teams that deserved to be in the tournament."

In particular, Barlow said Flagstaff Coconino was one of the quality teams that got left out. As for their placement in the bracket, he felt that their side of the draw has at least four state contenders.

"You know Flagstaff, Safford and Seton Catholic are going to be tough," he said. "It's going to be a challenge to get through our bracket but we feel like we have something to prove so we're just going to take it one game at a time and play our game."

If Tuba City gets by Greenway, the Warriors might meet No. 2 Safford in the next round, which would be a rematch of last year's state championship game. Safford plays No. 15 Empire for its first round game.

Flagstaff, which moved down a classification, is paired up with No. 14 Payson in the opening round and the winner of that match will play the survivor between No. 6 Seton Catholic and No. 11 Florence.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 4 seed Monument Valley will play No. 13 Holbrook.

"We're really happy with where we're at," Monument Valley coach Rennell Gilmore said. "We were thinking that we would get the No. 5 seed but Cactus lost their last game of the year so we moved up."

Gilmore called the bottom half of the bracket brutal but she still considers their side challenging since they'll be contending with top-seeded Snowflake and Cactus.

"Anything can happen," she said. "There is no more second chances so we need to keep our girls on their toes."

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