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9:48 AM Thu, Sept. 20th

Bears improve to 8-1 with win over rival Mingus

Prep Volleyball

Bradshaw Mountain’s Mailani Manuel (8) gets high for a block as the Bears faced the Mingus Marauders in a volleyball matchup Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Prescott Valley. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Bradshaw Mountain’s Mailani Manuel (8) gets high for a block as the Bears faced the Mingus Marauders in a volleyball matchup Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Prescott Valley. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Bradshaw Mountain now 2-0 in Grand Canyon region play

PRESCOTT VALLEY — Through its first five power-point matches, Bradshaw Mountain’s volleyball team has shown the camaraderie, mettle and confidence of a region championship-caliber squad.

Whether the Bears – who improved to 8-1 overall (5-0 in power-point matches) and 2-0 in the Grand Canyon region after a 3-0 victory over Mingus on Tuesday – can capture a title remains to be seen.

For now, at least, Bradshaw Mountain seems content to enjoy the ride and see what happens. The Bears’ 25-21, 25-11, 25-15 defeat of the county rival Marauders certainly helped.

“It’s crazy to see how far we’ve come, because two years ago when we first started a team together we weren’t nearly as good as we are now,” Bears middle blocker Rylee Bundrick said. “And we’re finally coming together, and it’s just working. I could definitely see us going pretty far, maybe even to state. I have so much faith in my team that we’re just going to keep pushing through.”

In a Grand Canyon region match at Gary Kunow Gym, junior outside hitter Mailani Manuel paced the Bears with a team-high 12 kills to go along with seven digs and two service aces.

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Bradshaw Mountain's Jordyn Moser slams a kill from the outside as the Bears faced the Mingus Marauders in a volleyball matchup Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 in Prescott Valley. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Jordyn Moser followed with nine kills, eight digs and two aces. Bundrick (6-foot) also stood out, notching nine kills and two solo blocks.

“She was up at the net, and she was a big block,” setter Mckell Clifford said of Bundrick. “Every ball she just hit straight down. She was ready to play.”

Clifford, who relieved regular starter Saylor Ford for most of Tuesday’s match so she could rest, finished with 18 assists. Ford had eight assists, five digs and four aces. Libero Reillie Smith added four service aces of her own, three of which were of the net-cord variety.

“Now, since we’ve been playing together for a few years, most of us, once we get the ball and we get that pass, there’s usually nothing stopping us,” Smith said. “We have a very good flow this year, and that’s what’s helping us.”

For Mingus (2-3, 0-2 Grand Canyon), sophomore outside hitter Kylah Vincent compiled a .500 hitting percentage in the third set and sophomore outside hitter Shelby Link tallied a .200 hitting percentage for the match.

The Bears, who finished the Ceil Billings Memorial Tournament at Greenway with a 3-1 mark Sept. 8 (only loss to unbeaten Greenway), are looking like a contender after the program had spent years mired in mediocrity. Bradshaw Mountain coach Natali Sobczak has her girls clicking thus far.

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Bradshaw Mountain's Peyton Bradshaw goes for a kill as the Bears faced the Mingus Marauders in a volleyball matchup Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 in Prescott Valley. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

“Lee Williams, Flagstaff and us are the ones that are undefeated in our region right now, and we just need to keep finding ways to battle our opponents and challenge them and, hopefully, beat them,” Sobczak said. “The girls do a really great job of seeing the court and working hard. They want that win.”

Meanwhile, the Marauders have struggled, losing their third straight match on Tuesday after starting the season at 2-0. Mingus coach Chelsea Chavez said her girls need to play more as a team.

“Bradshaw has always been that team that takes advantage of an opportunity,” Chavez said. “They are really good about seizing the opportunity and going on a run, and, unfortunately, my team is still learning how to respond to that.”

UP NEXT

Bradshaw Mountain visits Saguaro of the Desert Sky region for a non-region match at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, in Scottsdale.

Mingus will play host to Shadow Mountain of the Skyline region for a non-region match at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in Phoenix.

Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at dcook@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.