2004 was the last time Marana had a taste of the state tournament. There may have a been region tournament here and there along the way, but no ticket to the big one and the Tigers were hoping to break that streak Thursday night against Poston Butte. A win against the Broncos would have meant a region title and a trip to the 5A playoffs but it was not to be. Not yet.
Poston Butte (10-5, 6-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Marana (9-7, 6-1) and held on for a 3-1 win to draw even in the Sonoran Region. The two teams have now beaten each other once so the region championship might have to go to a tiebreaker to decide the champion.
1.Head to Head in Region/Section Games
2.Conference/Division Win Percentage
3.Overall Win Percentage
4.Overall Power Ranking
5.Coin Flip if simply to break a tie for seeding
6.Mini playoff if to go into the tournament
Each team still has a match scheduled at Desert View (5-10, 1-5) next week and the Broncos will end their regular season with a conference match at Paradise Valley (7-8, 2-5).
It is highly likely Poston Butte will win the region based on a better conference win percentage but Marana is still in line for a berth to the conference play-in tournament that features teams ranked 9-24. Ranked 21st before the loss to the Broncos, the Tigers will be watching the AIA/MaxPreps rankings closely.
At any rate, Marana only won one match last year and ended the season ranked 55th. A major part of the turnaround for the program can be attributed to first-year head coach Jenifer Ball. How else can one explain going from 2-23 in 2014 and 1-21 in 2015 to 19-11 this year?
Ball had previous coaching experience at Sinagua High School.
Poston Butte opened in 2009 and success had not come the Broncos way until former Casa Grande and Vista Grande coach Lakeeda “KiKi” Wilson arrived this fall. She is now on the brink of a region title.
Marana took a brief 9-7 lead in the first set but Poston Butte caught fire and took the set 25-15. The emotion from that set seemed to spill over to the second set and Poston Butte took that set 25-17 to take a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers showed some fight in the third set and built a 19-10 lead but the Broncos cut the lead down to 21-17 to put the set in doubt. Marana closed it out with four straight points to win it 25-17.
The fourth set was a battle the whole way with neither team taking more than a two-point lead. Marana eventually took a 22-21 lead on a kill from Daysie Franco but a service error tied it back up 22-22. Poston Butte took a 23-22 lead but Marana tied it right back up.
Mele Hala’ufia put up a block to put Marana up 24-23 but a kill by Poston Butte’s Kayla Wieserman made it 24-24. The Broncos would score the last two points to end the set and match 26-24.
We will know sometime Tuesday morning where both teams stand.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com