CASA GRANDE — Casa Grande Union entered Tuesday’s match riding a six-game win streak after dropping its season opener to Vail Cienega last month.

The Cougars (6-2) were swept by visiting Tucson Catalina Foothills 25-18, 25-9 and 25-12.

“I think part of it was that our schedule was a little bit easier than the team we faced,” CG Union coach Matt Reeves said. “Our very first game was against Cienega, a very tough opponent, I think this is the very first tough team we’ve seen since then.”

Reeves added that during the win streak, the Cougars managed to just get by opponents. Catalina Foothills really tested them and showed them exactly where they were at when it came to competing against playoff contenders.

The Falcons (4-3) proved to be too much for CG Union to handle defensively as the Cougars struggled with their serve-receive, which has been their Achilles’ heel so far this season.

“We’re working on it every practice but that’s the thing that keeps coming up on us,” Reeves said. “I think it’s going to take more communication, I don’t think they’re talking enough to each other. We’re waiting too long to move to a ball to play it; instead of reading the server we’re waiting until the ball is almost there before we move to get it. Its stuff we’re working on.”

The Cougars kicked off regional play against the Falcons and their schedule will not become any easier with the rest of their region opponents.

Reeves liked the fight his team showed to start the game and believes that if they can continue with that mentality and play together, they can compete with the rest of the region.

“We were fighting really well, especially in the first set,” he said. “Catalina Foothills has an amazing hitter, (Lauren Rumel) is amazing and I thought we did well against her in the first set. The second set we fell apart kind of in the middle and we let points get away from us. I thought we did OK in the third (set), we were fighting we were having some issues with our passing. But I definitely saw a better team than I’ve see the past couple of games, there was more fight in them than they’ve had.”

One Cougar in particular showed that she’s not afraid to go after the ball anywhere on the court, as she charged the bench on more than one occasion.

Early in the first set, Cynae Cureton charged towards the Cougars’ bench and dove to keep a ball in play, taking out a chair and hitting the deck hard. CG Union kept the rally going and Cureton quickly bounced back up and was ready to keep playing.

CG Union received the ball in the first set trailing 20-12 after a service error but were unable to build a rally and quickly returned possession to the Falcons. It didn’t take long for them to get the ball back as Catalina Foothills’ rally shot fell outside of the sideline.

Samantha Rodriguez went back to serve for the Cougars, and they managed to put up four rally points. The set ended with the Cougars being called for a double hit.

“We’ve moved Sam into that defensive specialist spot and we’re really requiring her to pick up some slack in the back row,” Reeves said. “She’s doing well for us, she’s stepping into that role well. She’s where I need her to be and she’s working hard.”

The Falcons controlled the second set from start to finish as they strategically delivered their hits to the open areas on the court and managed to hit the inside the backline.

Whereas the Cougars’ struggled to control the ball at times and their shot fell well beyond the backline in the second and third set.

“When we’re making good passes, that turns into a good set,” Reeves said. “I’ve got a couple of really good hitters that can put the ball away. It’s all going to start with that pass and that attitude of fight. If I can get them into that attitude and stay in that fight mode, I think we’ll be good.”

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Maria Vasquez is the Sports Editor for PinalCentral. She can be reached at mvasquez@pinalcentral.com.

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