Moving the Empire Ravens girls volleyball team up from the 3A Conference to the 5A Conference in the offseason was a head scratcher. Things were difficult enough, and the struggle to even qualify for the playoffs was real.
The program squeaked by in 2013 and 2014 with a 15 seed and a 16 seed but that led to first-round defeats. Then, when the field in 3A was expanded to 32 teams in 2015, the Ravens finished the regular season ranked 38th. The team missed the playoffs again in 2016 but qualified for the play-in bracket last year as a 21 seed.
Given all that, one would think the move up to 5A would have been a disaster but it’s been anything but. At 15-7 overall, 9-2 in power-ranking matches and 3-0 in 5A Sonoran Region, the Ravens started the day out ranked 13th and in complete control of their own destiny….
Sahuaro Volleyball Tournament
Friday, Oct. 5
Canyon del Oro vs. Blue Ridge, 9 a.m.
Rincon/UHS vs. Sahuaro, 9 a.m.
Tanque Verde vs. Blue Ridge. 10 a.m.
Catalina Foothills vs. Sahuaro, 10 a.m.
Rincon/UHS vs. Catalina Foothills, 11 a.m.
Tanque Verde vs. Canyon del Oro, 11 a.m.
Bracket Play: 12:30-2:30 p.m.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and he 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. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com