They needed a win—and they needed it bad.
Heading into Wednesday’s midseason matchup against slumping Sunnyside, the Rio Rico High Lady Hawks knew their season would be on the ropes if they didn’t do something fast. If they couldn’t get past the Lady Blue Devils, any hope of a .500-plus slate might be lost.
That hope might still be in question, but Wednesday’s 3-0 victory—Rio Rico’s fifth of the regular season—injected a little life into a squad that had just five wins all last season. With six regular season games left against relatively average opponents, though, the Lady Hawks still have a chance to nearly equal 2007’s victory total of 12.
“This is really going to help us and boost up our confidence,” said Lady Hawk setter Diana Sandoval, who had four aces and four assists on the night. “With this win, I think we’re really going to improve and step our game up, so we look forward to the rest of our games and the rest of our season.
“We really needed this,” she added. “We stepped our game up. We worked together and were better off as a team and it looked like it really helped us.”
Sunnyside, on the other hand, has just one win on a season that’s all but lost—naturally creating some understandable frustration. That frustration surfaced during the only close set of the night—the third, in which the Lady Blue Devils rallied from a 16-11 deficit to take a 23-18 lead. A questionable non-call on what looked to be contact at the net gave Rio Rico the next point and Sunnyside coach Adam Welch fits, evident in his clipboard being thrown down the side of his players’ bench.
Rio Rico went on to score the next three points and six of the last nine to complete the sweep.
“In my opinion, a bad call that caused the momentum to shift,” Welch said. “We picked up the energy, which is what we needed the whole game. We were gaining the momentum and then the call reversed things. Errors will cost you a game really fast … and that call, too.”
It was the play of Rosalinda Martinez and Ashley Campas, though, that got the Lady Blue Devils back into the contest. Martinez had two blocks and seven digs on the night, while Campas had two kills, five digs and a pair of assists.
Rio Rico’s Raelene Yocupicio and Nancy Ortiz, though, combined for eight kills, with Ortiz adding a block. Tack on Vanessa Virgen’s two digs and Jackie Castillo’s two assists and you have the proverbial straw that broke Sunnyside’s back.
“We didn’t know what we were coming up against … so I just told them to come out and play their heart out; no matter what level they were at, to not go down to it; just go for it … and expect the unexpected,” Rio Rico skipper Nancy Ayon said. “I also told them that from here on I know these are teams you can beat. You guys just got to want it and go play your hearts out and want it as much as anything you’ve ever wanted in your life. We have to get them to be able to do something in the postseason.”
To get there, though, the Lady Hawks will likely have to win out the rest of the way, with host Santa Rita slated next on Wednesday at 6 p.m.