Cienega Wins State Volleyball Championship by Andy Morales

No. 1 Cienega beat No. 2 Horizon Honors 3-2 (25-16, 20-15, 20, 25-21, 15-11) on Friday, May 12, to capture the 5A state boys’ volleyball championship. It was the first title for a team from Southern Arizona since Heather Moore-Martin led Catalina to back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011.

Cienega ended the season with a 37-4 record, only giving up 13 sets all year. Bobcat coach Heather Mott (117-33) joined an exclusive club by becoming only the sixth coach from Tucson to win a boys’ title since the AIA started conducting boys’ volleyball championships in 1995.

Only five teams from Southern Arizona have brought home a title. By contrast, teams from the Phoenix area have won 23 championships. It’s a piece of reality that Mott knew going in but chose to ignore so her squad could concentrate on the task at hand. “The teams from Phoenix are all full of volleyball players,” Mott explained. “They focus on volleyball year round, but I believe in developing multi-sport athletes. The core of our volleyball team also played basketball for Cienega.”

Javi Somers, Alex Muszynski, Kalani Headen, Colton Todd and McLain Mott all played basketball, helping to lead the team to a sixth ranking and a quarterfinal finish.  “We chose to ignore the Phoenix attitude and just played our volleyball,” Mott added.

Cienega took the first set 25-16 and then went on to build an 18-15 lead in the second set, only to have Horizon Honors go on a 10-2 run to even up the scoring 1-1. Horizon Honors won the third set 25-20 and the Bobcats were suddenly on the brink of losing the match. “We started to wonder if we really belonged here, but I felt moment was going to shift,” Mott said.” Her son, McLain Mott, is the senior setter every successful team needs. He can see the floor and make correct decisions. McLain began to shift to a more balanced attack that put Horizon Honors on the defensive and the Bobcats won the fourth set 25-21 and then closed out the match with a 15-11 win.

McLain finished with well over 700 assists on the year, but he was also a leader in other categories such as digs and kills, which meant he did more than his position required to help his team succeed.

Senior Skyler Cavanaugh led the team in kills, followed by Todd and Muszynski. Cavanaugh also led the team in blocks. Senior Jacob Duron led the team in digs with sophomore Ethan Iago not far behind. McLain’s freshman brother Carson Mott also had setting duties.

 

 

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