“Pressure is a privilege” is a slogan reiterated in and out of the 12-man boys volleyball roster for the Cienega Bobcats this season.
Last season, the Bobcats did something the program hadn’t done in their history by making a final four appearance in the state playoffs.
They were led by players like Isaiah Murphy, Walker Frighetti, McLain Mott, Colton Todd, Frankie Trujillo and Skyler Cavanaugh. They had a total of 1,020 kills.
— Cienega Volleyball (@cienegaboysvb) February 23, 2017
To go along with the fierce power hitters, the Bobcats did exceptionally well at the net. Murphy finished second in the nation with total blocks, 190. His counterpart, Cavanaugh, ended the year as one of the top 15 blockers in the nation.
The Bobcats showed they were no match for the majority of Southern Arizona by only dropping two sets in the regular season and two in the postseason. The two sets dropped in the postseason didn’t come until that final four game versus Ironwood. Cienega went into the postseason as the No. 2 seed and were underdogs due to past playoff outcomes.
This may be to lack of experience as up until this year, not one player had state championship experience. The only player in the boys program to win a ring is Cavanaugh, who won the 220-pound state championship in wrestling this season.
“After I know what a championship feels like, I definitely want another championship because I didn’t get one in football,” said Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh, who is also one of the leaders for the Bobcats, understands the importance of finishing better than what last year’s squad did and knows how to get his team there.
Our class of 2017 looking good today at the senior class picture! 🏐 pic.twitter.com/QkRMBbysbG
— Cienega Volleyball (@cienegaboysvb) January 11, 2017
“Last year I was kind of in the same role; McLain and I were both juniors but were both captains of the team and it is different because of there being seniors helping us out,” he said. “We are the seniors that have to help other people out.”
This yea, the entire team is focused around the term “Rise” as it is seen all over the team’s Twitter page.
Coach Heather Mott is very active on keeping her players in the right mindset and working hard no matter her players background or skill set as she has made a knack of turning single-sport athletes into multi-sport volleyball stars.
“We are just increasing our multi-sport athletes,” she said. “I think we only have two kids on our roster that aren’t either double-sport athletes or three-sport athletes.
“So most of them have had disappointments in the year and so are hungry to go after something higher at this level. A lot of them are drawn to our volleyball program just because of the energy and the brotherhood and the camaraderie that is there. It is a lot of fun and so the boys are seeing that in their sports and are coming. We actually had to make cuts this year, have a JV team and we made cuts.”
With multiple key aspects coming back for a reloading year, the Bobcats look to be in great shape to continue on the path of dominance. The returning key players include Jacob Duron, Mott, Todd and Cavanaugh. A few players have been added that McLain Mott, the setter, will look to use.
“Last year I ran a offense where almost all of my hitters had equal kills,” he said. “It was a really diverse offense. Graduating a few of those players, it allows me to rely more heavily on some of our senior leadership and to be a little bit less diverse in our offense but still find the hitters.”
The Bobcats will look to start the season on a good note with a tough matchup against Canyon Del Oro in the Bobcat Den on March 1.