Catalina Foothills only played 10 matches last fall in a season riddled with COVID concerns and complications. The Falcons managed to play through it all to qualify for the postseason for only the second time since 2016 only to have it all slip away thanks to a few positive cases that resulted in a forfeit to Canyon View in a very winnable match at home.
6-foot-2 senior Lauren Rumel still dominated at the net last fall and she earned First Team All-Southern Arizona honors a few days after she announced her commitment to play indoor volleyball for the University of Arizona with an outside shot of also playing beach for the Wildcats. Rumel put together an amazing junior year in those 10 matches with over six kills per set and she reached that mark on Tuesday night at home against Tucson High.
Rumel collected 12 kills in a sweep over the Badgers (25-9, 25-12, 25-8) while resting in the third set in favor of playing experience for teammates in the first match of the year. Fellow senior Ava Pritz dished out 28 assists in the win while collecting five aces. Senior Ella Parsons added seven kills.
LINK: FREE MATCH PHOTOS
Tucson was led by junior outside Aquarina Thomas and sophomore setters Noelani Valencia and Ruthie Wnek. The Badgers reached the play-in round under first-year head coach Keira Perkins last fall and the program is hoping to reach the playoffs again despite having only three seniors with a daunting schedule that includes all of the top teams in Southern Arizona with a chance to play defending 4A state champion Salpointe at the TUSD Invitational taking place this Friday and Saturday in the Badger gym.
“We have a very young team this year with Aquarina leading us and I think we will have a great year, we just played an incredible team here tonight,” Perkins said. “We invited 16 of the best teams to come play in our gym this week including Foothills and, as you saw, we have some things to work on but, in a way, this was the best thing that could have happened to us because it helps us learn this early in the season.”
The Badgers will travel to play at Sunnyside Wednesday night and Catalina Foothills is set to host the Lancers on the same night. The Falcons will also be playing in the Tanque Verde Hawks Invitational in late September and the Badgers will visit Phoenix to play in the Goldwater Volleyball Festival.
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) September 1, 2021
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. 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. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org