Morenci’s volleyball squad let the first game of the Class C district tournament get away from them, but they came from behind to steal game number two.
After that, the Bulldogs made some excellent plays, but not enough of them. After starting off each of the final two games in close contention, they fell back while Sand Creek pushed ahead for the victory.
The Aggies took the opener at Hudson last Wednesday 26-24, gave Morenci the second one 22-25, then finished it off 25-16 and 25-14. Sand Creek lost in the finals Thursday night to Madison.
“I felt like we lost rhythm, momentum or something about half way through the third game and we couldn’t seem to get it back,” said Bulldog coach Dennis Owens. “We controlled the net defensively, Sand Creek began tipping the ball a lot because of our many blocks, but we didn't convert enough of our own attack opportunities.”
But Owens gives the Aggies credit for handling Morenci’s many attacks, saying that they covered up well and made some good adjustments to stay on top.
Morenci forged an early 7-2 lead in the opener, but Sand Creek came back to tie the game at 13-13. The Bulldogs slowly worked their way to a 22-20 advantage on a tip by Chanler McCaskey and went up 23-20 on a block by Tia Tompkins.
McCaskey slammed the ball to the back line for a 24-22 lead, but that was the end of the line for the Bulldogs. The Aggies scored four in a row to win.
Coach Owens wonders if there would have been a different outcome had Morenci not let that one slip out of its reach.
In game two, the Bulldogs got off to a slow start, falling behind 3-7 and later trailing 11-18. Then, with Amy Gillman at the serving line, Morenci scored six in a row, including one ace and a pair of kills by McCaskey.
McCaskey pounded an attack between a pair of Sand Creek back row players to tie it up at 20 each. Phoenix Duncan, up from the JV squad, hit the back corner to make ti 22-20. She tippeded for a 23-21 lead and blocked to make it 24-21. An Aggie hit went out of bounds to tie the series at one win each.
In game three, an 8-8 tie soon fell apart. The Aggies scored four in a row, then five in a row to lead 17-9. Morenci could never get closer than six in the 16-25 loss.
In game four, the Bulldogs kept it close and trailed 10-13 before the Aggies once again made steady gains. Morenci cut the lead to five at 14-19, but never scored another point.
Serving leaders for the night were Tompkins at 18/18, Mariah Bovee at 13/14, McCaskey at 9/10 and Kathleen Barron at 9/11, with 2 aces.
In serve reception, Barron finished at 32/33 and had 13 digs. Bovee ended with 15 digs, Gillman with 13 digs and McCaskey with 11 digs.
Gillman led with 10 assists and Dana Joughin added six.
“We had 130 attacks on the night, but were only able to convert 23 of them into kills due to Sand Creek’s defense,” Owens said.
Chanler McCaskey had 11 kills on 44 attacks and five kill blocks. Tia Tompkins finished with three kills on 33 attacks and had six kill blocks. Phoenix Duncan contributed three kill blocks.
Morenci football: The good news for Morenci’s next football coach: the backfield will return for another season. The bad news: their blockers up front will mostly be gone through graduation.
That will be the challenge for Morenci’s new coach next fall, now that head coach Dan Hoffman is stepping down.
Leader rusher Reese Graham for final season to improve on his 89 yards per game average from this season. Leading scorer Chas Frey also returns after his 57 yards a game average. Frey finished with 54 points, ahead of Graham with 44 and Dustin Roller with 22. Sophomore kicker Nick Wilson finished with 19 points.
Quarterback Jarrett Keller has another season, also. He passed for 585 yards for a game average of 65 yards.
His favorite receiver was senior Trey Tompkins who finished the year with 253 yards and a 15.8 yards per catch average.
Frey averaged 5.7 yards on 11 receptions, Clayton Wolf averaged 15.9 on seven receptions and Roller averaged 22.2 yards on five receptions.
On defense, senior Levi Hoffman was the leader in tackles with 113 followed by senior Anthony Tompkins with 67 and sophomore Nick Wilson with 54. Senior Lucas Johnson posted 12 tackles for losses. Johnson and Wilson each notched three sacks.
Hoffman led the squad with 32 pancake blocks, followed by Wilson with 14 and Johnson with 10.
Frey averaged 18.5 return yards in kickoffs and Roller averaged 12.4.
Keller, Isaac Jeffers and Frey each ran an interception for a touchdown.
The Bulldogs led opponents in nearly every statistic except for the all-important point tally. Victories came only against Oakland Christian, Britton-Deerfield and Madison.
Three Morenci football players were named to the first team All-TCC squad in voting by coaches.
Junior running back Reese Graham was named a member of the offensive squad, along with senior lineman Lucas Johnson. Senior linebacker Levi Hoffman was named to the first team of the defensive squad.
Anthony Tompkins was given honorable mention and Trey Tompkins was named to the all-sportsmanship team.
Tommy McVay was the only Bulldog named to the All-Academic team.
Whitmore Lake led the all-league selections with nine players, including six juniors.
Other first-team picks were:
• Whitmore Lake seniors Corey Oberstaedt, John Los and Tom Strautz, and juniors Ethan Maulbetsch, Chase St. Charles, Rob McIntyre, Max Griffin, Mike Kemor and Vince Ramirez;
• Whiteford seniors A.J. Harmon, Benn Frazier, Will Frazier and Jake Ritzenthaler;
• Summerfield seniors Taylor Glass and Chris Gooch;
• Sand Creek seniors Brad Smith, Jared Adams, Nick Wilt, Josh VanDusen, Kelby Lamka, Garrett King and Calvin Sullins;
• Madison junior Zach Brewer;
• Clinton seniors Aaron Tice, Shane Burke and Steve Embry, and juniors Jesse Sexton and Andrew Leverenz;
• Britton-Deerfield seniors Mike Burman and Brandon Keller.
Bowling tournament: A Nine is Fine bowling tournament is scheduled at Mor-N-C Lanes at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, to benefit Morenci Area High School’s bowling club. The entry fee is $15.
Each team will play three games. The winner will be decided by calculating the total of all three games, plus the handicap. Those bowlers with no average will have a handicap of 160 pins for men and 120 for women. Bowlers with an average will have a handicap from 220 of this year’s average.
To register a team or for more information, call Jeff Shadbolt at 517/403-8925 or Mor-N-C Lanes at 517/458-2260.