TOMBSTONE — The Yellow Jackets didn’t get the result they were looking for Tuesday night in their season finale against the Morenci Wildcats. Morenci clawed out a straight set victory in Tombstone to make the No. 25 Yellow Jackets anxiously wait to see if they squeak into the postseason.
Tombstone had strong starts in each of the three sets, but Morenci made their way back into each game, and ultimately it was Morenci who closed out strong, leaving Tombstone wondering what more they could have done. Tuesday’s match was the Yellow Jackets’ second in as many days, after the team defeated Willcox on the road in five sets on Monday.
“They played well. I can’t complain,” Tombstone head coach Dan Romero said after the loss. “They finished the season strong so I can’t complain. This team, they always stepped up no matter who came in here.”
The first set started with an exchange of points until Tombstone pulled ahead 12-7 causing Morenci to call a timeout. Morenci began to chip away at Tombstone’s lead and rallied to tie the game 15-15.
Hoping to swing momentum back into his team’s favor, Romero call a timeout with the score even. Both squads traded points out of the break until the Wildcats strung a series of points together to take the first set 25-21.
Unlike the first set, the second started with a surge by the Wildcats. With the score tied 2-2, Morenci steamrolled to an 8-4 lead. This time it was Tombstone’s turn to battle from behind, and an ace by senior Moxie Mosman knotted the game 8-8.
The Yellow Jackets pushed ahead 14-11 midway through the game, but their lead didn’t last long as Morenci tied the game 15-15. Morenci took the lead on the next point and never gave it up, winning the second set 25-19 on an ace.
Tombstone started the third set how they wanted, but couldn’t hold the lead. The Yellow Jackets swarmed to a 4-0 advantage but watched it slip away as the Wildcats tied the game 5-5. Morenci prevailed in the see-saw points battle and took a 17-13 advantage, causing a Yellow Jacket timeout.
The Wildcats needed one point to end the game but it was Tombstone who stole the momentum and pushed the game to 24-23, forcing a Wildcat timeout. No. 13 Morenci sealed the win on the first point out of the break.
Tombstone finishes the regular season with an 8-10 overall record and will have to wait until the final rankings to see if their strength of schedule helps them earn a spot in the top 24 teams that make the postseason.