A year ago at this time Marana boys volleyball coach Alex Ruff was saying goodbye to six seniors, including most of his statistical leaders.
After the 2011 season the Tigers lost six seniors, over half of their roster. Of those six they lost top four scorers, their top four servers, five of the top-six leaders in blocks, plus their leaders in digs and their setter who accounted for over 90% of the team’s assists.
With all that experience and production moving on to the next phase of their life, Ruff was prepared for the chance that the Tigers would have some growing pains.
“It was definitely a rebuilding year,” confirmed Ruff.
The team came out of the gates slow, opening the regular season 1-13 and not fairing much better overall when tournament games were included. It did not help that three of their four games were against teams that finished with three losses or less.
“At the onset a lot of these guys were used to JV ball,” explained Ruff. “The learning curve was great.”
Although the wins did not start piling up, the games were getting closer and closer as the season progressed. Teams who blew them out early in the season were starting to work harder and harder to earn their wins.
“We started to see glimpses of what I think this team can be,” Ruff said.
The optimism is high. The Tigers graduate just three seniors, two who were strong contributors, and have great participation in the lower levels. So many players came out for volleyball that Marana had both a JV “A” and JV “B” teams this season. Both the “A” and “B” had winning seasons, meaning the competition for varsity roster spots next should be heated next year.
“We expect to regroup and be reloaded next year,” said Ruff. “We return our two outside hitters, two middle blockers and both of our setters.”
Although they will miss Daniel Pruett and Andrew Miller, the rest of the statistical leaders return. Evan Boyack and Noe Arroyo-Williams routinely led the team in kills, while Jake Bewley and Jeff Carranza took turns leading the team in assists as the Tigers’ top-two setters. Joshua Kartchner was also a big contributor this season.
“I’m excited,” Ruff admitted. “These are great guys who are very coachable. The young guys coming up are very good athletes and everyone wants to win.”
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