BULLHEAD CITY — Lady T-birds junior Natasha Radic earned Second-Team All-Grand Canyon Region honors, according to the aiaonline.org’s “statewide recognition process.”
Radic said she felt really good about earning the second-team award.
“Our junior year, after Lillie left and everythng, I was kind of worried about stepping it up and having a good season,” said Radic about what she was thinking about entering her first season without former Mohave standout Lillie Mueller. “I thought we did really well for losing a good amount of seniors and I thought it was really great to have the recognition, especially because it’s hard in such a small town.
“It was really good; I was really happy with it.”
Three Grand Canyon Region student-athletes earned earned AIA All-4A Conference First-Team accolades, and two more earned all-conference second-team honors, which made it five of 17 student-athletes from the same region as Mohave earning first- or second-team all-conference recognition.
Radic was not among the five, but she did garner an AIA Conference 4A Honorable Mention spot.
“We were in a really good region,” Radic said. “There were a lot of really good seniors competing in the region and I was really glad to have gotten on the second team.
“With all-(conference), to get honorable mention, I was really happy with that as a junior this year.”
Mohave High School head volleyball coach Zdenko Radic weighed in on the AIA’s selection process.
Grand Canyon Region powerhouses Prescott, Coconino and Flagstaff high schools were formidable foes for the T-birds during the 2016 campaign.
Prescott was ranked No. 2, Flagstaff was No. 3 and Coconino was No. 10 entering the 2016 AIA Volleyball Girls 4A State Championship, and Salpointe Catholic eliminated Flagstaff in the quarterfinals and Prescott in the semis.
The No. 6-ranked Salpointe Catholic squad went on to top Greenway for the state title, as two Grand Canyon Region teams earned a spot in the Elite Eight.
“We played some top 10 teams in our (region); it was a great accomplishment for (Natasha Radic), and she was happy, too,” said the Mohave head coach. “There are so many good players.”
Even though Coach Radic was pleased that his middle blocker/outside hitter earned a second-team all-region spot, he thought she could have earned more recognition.
“I thought that she could ... maybe there was a spot for her in the first team,” Coach Radic said. “But that’s how we voted, and what can you do?
“She was short a couple of points, so it made her second team.
“But I thought she could; it’s more individual than teams, and those guys that play in Flagstaff and Prescott they have really good teams. While on my team, Natasha was the best.”
Juniors Savanna Frei and Kalani Reehill and senior Paige Heaton each earn ed all-region honorable mention nods.
“I think in general, for our program, when I took over the program it wasn’t that ... it didn’t look so bright,” said Radic, as he appraised the fact that four of his T-birds earned postseason recognition. “It tells us that we’re going in a different direction. Year after year, we have kids who are on section or region or division teams, so it’s kind of satisfactory I would say.”
The No. 21-ranked Mohave squad was 9-9 overall, 5-8 in conference and 5-7, according to aiaonline.org’s power-point rankings in 2016. The top 16 earn a playoff berth, as the T-birds missed it by five spots in the rankings.
The T-birds were coming off a fantastic 2015 season. The No. 2-ranked Mohave team was 18-2 overall, 10-0 in Division IV and 6-0 in Section, according to the since-then realigned aiaonline.org’s power-point rankings.
“My junior year was by far my best year of volleyball,” Heaton said. “It was just — I don’t even know how to explain it — it was amazing.”
Heaton’s junior season was the first time the Mohave volleyball team earned a spot in the playoff in recent seasons.
“We were really excited about that,” Heaton said.
The T-birds ended up losing to Buckeye High School in the first round of the playoffs in 2015.
Reehill said it was an “amazing run we went on my sophomore year and the bond we created, I couldn’t be more proud of my team.
“Even though we didn’t make the playoffs this year, we made the adjustment to moving up a division and I believe we’ll do great next season.
“Knowing that I got honorable mention in a higher division is such an amazing feeling because there are so many amazing teams and amazing players that we compete against.”
Heaton went on to compliment Mohave’s second-team all-region student-athlete. “Natasha is just MVP all around,” she said.