SAN TAN VALLEY-- The Poston Butte Broncos (19-12) dominated their Pinal County rivals on Tuesday night, the Apache Junction Prospectors, 3-0 with set scores of 25-17, 25-14 and 25-13.
The Broncos have undoubtedly found their footing as of late, but the command with which they won the match even surprised head coach Belinda Quesada. She attributed the win to a rhythm they found during last weekend’s 10-game tournament, which included a win over Casa Grande Union.
“The girls have just learned how to play with each other. They’ve become a team. There’s no drama on my team. They’re just one,” Quesada said.
The Broncos are beginning to gel at the right time. Injuries at the beginning of the season caused them to drop eight of their first 10 games- a hole they have been crawling out of ever since. Currently seeded No. 21 in 4A with the 24-team playoff nearing, the Broncos have now won 16 of their last 19 matches.
“We’ve been finding rhythm since we have had our whole team healthy. So we’ve learned how to play with each other and even when we’ve had hiccups, we come back. This team has learned how to come back.” Quesada said.
Not only does it feel like they are improving match-to-match. On Tuesday night, it felt like they were improving with every set.
Behind three serves from Addison Cluff, the Broncos got off to a 3-0 start; two points ended with kills from opposite hitter Nina Bongiovanni. The Prospectors sparked a run of their own and tied the score multiple times throughout the first 15 rallies. But every time the Prospectors had a chance to take the lead, they committed an unforced error or the Broncos responded with a play of their own.
A 7-1 Broncos run gave them a 16-9 lead in the first set and aside from a single timeout when their lead was cut to six, they never looked back for the rest of the match.
The first set was as competitive as things got. From there, things only got more lopsided in the Broncos favor as the Prospectors struggled to generate any real offense or respond to impressive plays by Broncos on both sides of the ball. Specifically, Bongiovanni, middleblocker Aolani Motu and outside hitters Abby Kern and Alexis Gaitan kept things at the front of the net and killed several Prospectors opportunities at the net.
“I just like how they’re just enthusiastic,” Quesada said. “They work hard, they work together and they’re just consistent.”
What makes the Broncos’ authoritative win even more surprising were the playoff implications at stake in the match. The Prospectors face an uphill battle to jump the power rankings and earn a
postseason spot. Tuesday night’s match was pivotal to influencing the rankings and a flat performance only makes the task of making the playoffs taller.
On the other hand, the Broncos have been nearly unstoppable since getting healthy and pose a serious threat as they solidify their spot in postseason play. Their next match is scheduled for Thursday against struggling Scottsdale Coronado.