Abby Whatton

Canyon del Oro freshman Abby Whatton hammers a spike against Nogales High School on Thursday, Sept. 6.

The Canyon del Oro Dorados’ impressive start raced forward unimpeded Thursday, sweeping the Nogales Apaches to improve to 4-0 this season. 

The Dorados, coached by Michael Owens, set the tone for the evening in the game’s first set, outscoring the overmatched Apaches 20-8 down the stretch—closing out a 25-13 set victory. 

Their momentum was almost unstoppable from there, taking the second and third sets by a score of 25-18 and 25-21. 

The Dorados performance on Thursday was nothing new for Owens, whose team has won each of its first four matches in straight sets. 

The second-year coach praised his players’ ability to stay consistent in their serving and returns—praising their ability to take care of business. 

“I think that they’ve been working really, really hard in practice,” Owens said. “What they’ve been doing is transferring what we’ve worked on in practice into the game structure. So, it just shows that they’re not taking anybody lightly, and going 100 miles per hour the whole time.” 

Owens was impressed by the contributions made by players of all ages, with freshman Abby Whatton picking up a team-high 11 kills, while senior Eve Pearson had 10 kills, 4 assists and 18 service aces. 

For Owens, the team’s early season success comes from having a solid mixture of talent and chemistry among players. 

That on-court camaraderie allows the Dorados to take advantage of each opponent’s weak spots, helping the team dominate their foes. 

“This group right here, we have a lot of talent, but we had a lot of players at the same time that are developing and buying into our system,” Owens said. “It’s rare you get that mix where you can kind of see what the future brings as well as a good sound varsity that we have right now.”

That buy-in from experienced and newer players has allowed the Dorados to sweep the likes of Tucson High School, Amphitheater, Cholla and the Apaches this season. 

He knows they’ll need much of the same going forward, playing in a tough 4A Kino region with teams like Salpointe Cathoilc and Catalina Foothills, who the Dorados play on Thursday. 

Owens knows that the Dorados have little room for error if they’re going to make it to the state playoffs this season, after missing out last year. 

“I’ll be honest, looking at what our division looks like, there are a couple of matches that we kind of have to win for that to happen,” he said. “I don’t want to call anybody out, but yeah, if we work like we’re working, we’re going to be hard out against anybody.”

The Dorados put their unblemished record on the line against the Falcons at 6 p.m. on Thursday, before hosting Walden Grove at the same time on Sept. 17. 

 

Around the region

It was a busy week for teams from northwest Tucson, with the Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions sweeping Florence on Tuesday, while Ironwood Ridge swept Mountain View and Nogales. 

The Marana Tigers split their matches against Flowing Wells and Salpointe Catholic, sweeping the former before getting swept by the Lancers. 

The Catalina Foothills Falcons beat Tanque Verde 3-1, while Mountain View recovered from its straight sets loss to IRHS by sweeping Pueblo. 

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