VOLLEYBALL: CDO beat Ironwood Ridge 3-1 to end winless streak

April 5, 2016 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

David Garwacki & Bill Lang sporting their lettermen jackets from their playing days.
Both are coaching at their rival schools.
(Andy Morales/AZPreps365.com)

It's been five years since Canyon del Oro has gotten the best of Ironwood Ridge. Those five years, and the 11 losses in a row that came with it, were almost forgotten Tuesday night when the Dorados came out on top 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22) in an emotionally packed match. Almost forgotten, but not quite. This is a rivalry after all - at least it is now.

Those 11 wins in a row came at a time when Bill Lang was building a dynasty from a sport he helped create when he, himself, was an athlete at Canyon del Oro. Lang was part of the original group of boys who petitioned the AIA to recognize boy's volleyball as a high school sport.

He went on to become an assistant coach at CDO and it was then that the term, "CDO Hitmen" was born. The Dorados came in second place in the first state championship match in 1995 and then won it all a year later.

The Dorados went on to play in two more state title matches but the competitive edge began to slowly fade after the 2005 season. The retirement of head coach Melva Lundy signaled the end of an era.

"It's been pretty chaotic here with all the coaching changes," third-year coach David Garwacki explained. "This team has been three years in the making and we are finally getting experienced. That's the difference between this year and last year."

The Dorados also have several three-sport athletes on the floor such as senior Noah Soto. Soto is also the school's quarterback and point guard.

"We don't have any fulltime volleyball players on our team," Garwacki added. "There isn't a lot of time in the spring season to get everyone ready so we just have to go."

As it turns out, Garwacki played at Ironwood Ridge and he graduated in 2005, just when the shift in power was beginning to take place.

The Dorados are back.

We saw a preview of what might happen this year when Ironwood Ridge eliminated Canyon del Oro in the first round of the state playoffs last year in an epic 3-2 battle with the final set going to 15-13.

Still, a loss is a loss and Ironwood Ridge (6-2 in power-ranking games) came in ranked sixth in Division II and Canyon del Oro (6-1) was ranked ninth. The Dorados were still the underdog and they played that way in the first set when Ironwood Ridge was able to stick to their game plan for the 25-20 win.

"We lost this match on serves," Lang explained. "We have a goal to have our errors match our aces but we failed to do that. We had 22 service errors and only nine aces."

Lang understands his team's strengths and he devised a plan that worked almost perfectly in that opening set.

"We have a small team and we did a good job with our serving early on," he added. "They weren't able to work the middle because of our serving but we got away from it later."

The second set worked up to a 23-23 tie but a service error gave CDO a 24-23 edge and then the 25-23 win. CDO went on to build a 24-20 lead in the third set but two kills closed the gap to 24-22 but another service error gave the set to CDO, 25-22.

The Dorados took a 22-17 lead in the deciding fourth set but Zachary Snyder got hot and put down five kills down the stretch to fuel a 7-2 run to make the score 24-23 but Jake Shinohara scored to give CDO the 25-23 win.

Nick Call led CDO with 14 kills with Soto and Keifer Neerhof adding six each. Soto also had 22 digs while Jacob Mapp added 20 more. Thomas Koppy had 29 assists.

For Ironwood Ridge, Erik Beer recorded 11 kills with Snyder and Andrew Hunter adding five each. Tyler Low had 40 assists.


The loss to CDO was also the first lost to a section opponent since Salpointe beat Ironwood Ridge 3-1 on March 27, 2012.

The Dorados will be hosting the Hitmen Invitational this weekend.