Story by James Kelley
Photo by Gabi Piña
Thanks in no small part to a brutally tough early schedule, the young Pima Community College volleyball team is winless, 0-7, to start the season.
With just three sophomores, the Aztecs are also 0-4 in the hole in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.
“Well obviously it’s frustrating to not have a win at this point,” head coach Dan Bithell said. “But, with the experience level of our team and the scheduling, it’s not a complete surprise or complete shock.”
Pima has played all but of its one match away from home to start the season.
“I think it’s been a rough start but we’re moving forward,” freshman setter freshman Czarina Schutt said.
Not counting a San Diego City College Tournament, nine of the Aztecs’ next 15 matches are at home starting on Sept. 17.
“It’s definitely tough to go on the road,” Bithell said. “Hopefully by the time we start seeing people in our building, we will have created a little bit more of a buzz about what we are doing and get a lot of fans our here to support us and surprise a lot more teams the second time around.”
Schutt agrees that more matches at the friendly confines of Aztec Gymnasium, which is on the West Campus will help, but she also expects the Aztecs to get better regardless.
“I think definitely it will be an advantage but I think either way as the season goes forward we will get better,” Schutt said.
There are some bright spots for the Aztecs though. Schutt is third in the ACCAC in assists with 6.93 per game.
“I think I’m doing good, I could always improve,” she said.
Sophomore libero Jessica Manley is fifth in the league in digs with 3.88 per game. Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Hamilton is eighth in the conference in kills with 2.41 per game.
In addition to being on the road, Pima’s schedule has been filled with ranked teams.
On Aug. 27, the Aztecs traveled to No. 4 Scottsdale Community College, where they were swept in three games, 11-25, 13-25 and 13-25. On Sept. 8, Pima faced No. 12 Glendale Community College on the road and was also swept, 19-25, 15-25 and 23-25.
In the Scottsdale Classic Tournament, the Aztecs faced No. 5 Grand Rapids Community College and No. 15 Eastern Arizona College. Grand Rapids swept Pima 15-25, 19-25, 13-25, but the Aztecs were able to push Eastern to four games after a rough first two games, finishing the match 9-25, 17-25, 25-22 and 22-25.
“We are getting better everyday and just like I told the team, it is who finishes well as opposed to who starts well in this conference,” Bithell said. “I still feel good about coming to the gym and working with these guys.”
The Aztecs traveled to Thatcher, Arizona, to face Eastern Arizona again on Sept. 15, where they lost 3-1, (25-22,25-18 and 25-22).
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