FLORENCE — The key for Florence this year has been depth and flexibility as coach Jeana Brown has had to use four different lineups.
However, on Thursday, it was evident that lineup No. 4 might the one she sticks with, as the Gophers dominated early over San Tan Foothills – winning the match 3-0 by the scores of 25-13, 25-12 and 25-13.
“This is a revised lineup, so it was good to find some rhythm with it throughout the entire night,” Brown said. “We stayed in rhythm and pushed through it. That was our goal.
“We stayed in control. We stayed focused. We didn’t have any dips. Sometimes you have some dips and some highs and lows, and we didn’t have that tonight.”
On Thursday, there were no dips or lows to speak of for the Gophers, who improved to 10-11 overall and 2-1 in the 3A Central region.
Florence jumped out to a 16-9 lead in the first set and held a 20-12 lead in set No. 2 and led by 10 again in set No. 3.
Clara Bednarkek had 17 kills and two blocks to lead the Gophers, Miya Alvarado added 13 kills and two blocks, and Kendall Drake had 35 assists.
Brown said Bednarkek, Alvarado and Drake have been the key players this year, along with Jade Root and Victoria Acosta, who have chipped in as well.
“It’s been up and down. We have had some things that we have had to work through with personal issues. The one thing I would say is this team is very flexible,” she said. “The girls have been really good at (knowing) now you are playing outside and now you are playing middle. They know they have to play multiple spots on the court.”
Success has been hard to come by for San Tan Foothills, as the loss dropped the Sabercats to 3-10 overall and 0-3 in the region under first-year coach Kylene Knutsen.
“We have a lot of work to do for the next game,” Knutsen said after her team’s loss Thursday. “We just have be prepared for the next game.”
San Tan Foothills is a senior-heavy team, with nine seniors led by Daelynn Briggs and Aaliyah Gray.
Despite the struggles, Knutsen, who did not play volleyball but was a javelin thrower at Northern Arizona University, said she is absolutely enjoying the experience.
“This is my first year teaching and coaching and I absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s been some ups and downs with the coaching staff. I’ve been out. I’ve had some injures that I was going through. So we have had to figure out the coaching as we’ve gone through.”