With only one senior on her roster, Rancho boys volleyball coach Allegra Derzon found a way to extend Senior Night festivities Wednesday.
Accompanied by his parents, Kevin Wadsworth strode from one corner of the court to the next as Derzon rattled off his accomplishments. Each corner represented a season in his four-year varsity career.
Now the Rams’ sturdy setter hopes to write a happy ending to the last corner as he leads Rancho into the Class 4A Sunrise Region playoffs.
“The guys depend on you, and I know I can make it happen for them,” Wadsworth said of being the lone senior. “I like that pressure on me.”
Rancho (11-5) hosts Basic (14-6) in a quarterfinal match at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Seeded second from the Northeast League, the Rams said they like their chances at winning a playoff match for the first time since 2000.
“Our goal is to make it past the first round,” junior outside hitter Kevin Plascencia said. “After that, we’ll see what happens.”
After going 6-6 in league last season, the Rams were swept by Coronado in the first round of the playoffs.
But Rancho has improved since then, thanks to its versatility on offense, Derzon said. And no one has been more pivotal than Wadsworth.
“Last year, we ran a couple different sets with Kevin,” Derzon said. “This year, he can run 10 or 12 various sets off of the front-row hitters, and that makes our offense versatile and effective.”
Wadsworth said this team is the best in his four years at Rancho.
“We have a lot of young players, but they’re probably the most athletic players I’ve ever played with,” he said. “All of them can attack the ball, and our passers are always there. When they’re playing their game, we can attack and beat anyone.”
Wadsworth piled up at least 29 assists in three of the Rams’ final four regular-season matches, but it’s not just his numbers that have Rancho believing.
“He motivates us in practice and through the game,” Plascencia said. “He’s our emotional leader.”
In other Sunrise quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday: Las Vegas (16-4) hosts Green Valley (9-8); Silverado (14-5) hosts Canyon Springs (8-7); and Coronado (18-1) hosts Valley (6-9).
In Sunset quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday: Shadow Ridge (20-0) hosts Spring Valley (9-8); Bonanza (15-5) hosts Palo Verde (15-5); Centennial (15-5) hosts Bishop Gorman (9-9); and Sierra Vista (18-2) hosts Cimarron-Memorial (12-6).
The remainder of both brackets will be played at Sierra Vista, with semifinals Thursday and title matches Friday.