Junior middle Hailey White racked up 14 kills for Tempe Marcos de Niza Thursday, leading the Padres past Apache Junction 25-13, 25-21, 25-17 in a non-region match at the AJHS gym.
Lady Prospectors Coach Regan Roach said that Marcos de Niza and Tuesday’s opponent, Phoenix Arcadia, “were tough teams to play. But (against MDN), I feel we really stepped up in so many ways. Once we figured out how to get to that block in the middle, it changed how (MDN) had to play their game.”
Sophomore Addison Cooksey was asked to step up and try to neutralize White.
“She’s never played middle before and she’s trying to figure it out,” Coach Roach said. “Trial by fire!”
Marcos de Niza (7-8) cruised in the first game, emerging from a 4-4 deadlock to an 11-6 lead. The Padres wrapped the first game with a 10-3 run.
Apache Junction (4-11) battled back in game two, jumping to a 14-8 lead. Cooksey, Mady Roach and Haley Loftis each had two kills in that run.
The Lady Prospectors were leading 15-10 when MDN took a 19-15 lead on a nine-point run that included two White kills and three service aces by Olivia Craig.
“We switched up our receiving, which has been a little better,” Coach Roach said. “They had the one hitter and one server over there.”
A Cooksey service ace tied game three at 7-7. From there, Marcos de Niza surged ahead to stay on an AJ service error, a kill by Alynna Cruz and an Audrey Mayer service ace. After the Lady Prospectors pulled to within 15-13, MDN closed out the match with a 10-4 run, completed with an ace by Craig on match point.
“The girls battled all the way through,” Coach Roach said. “We were talking about how when one girl finally gets on, another one falls off. We’ve got to figure out how to get them all together.”
Craig finished with eight service aces for Marcos de Niza; Cruz added eight kills, followed by Nina Marshall with five kills and Seriah Catania with four.
Loftis led AJHS with seven kills, followed by Mady Roach with six, Brooke Gordon with four, Cooksey with three, and two each from Allison Lopez and Ellie Crisp.
The Lady Prospectors begin 4A Black Canyon Region play on Thursday, Sept. 26, when they host Phoenix Washington.