Gila Ridge volleyball players re-tell trip to Mesa that left them stranded roadside
It wasn’t the best start to a five-game road trip for the Gila Ridge volleyball team.
On Sept. 26, after losing in four sets to Mesa-Skyline, the Hawks grabbed some food before making the long ride back to Yuma. Then, out of nowhere, came trouble.
Here, in the words of the players, is the story of that night.
Jonnae Ogden, outside hitter, sophomore: “We got some dinner and we were driving for like 10 minutes then I hear, right below me, a big pop and then a dun-dun-dun. Honestly, I was very scared.”
Kelley Cradic, setter, senior: “I was about to fall asleep, listening to my earphones, when I heard something pop and was like, ‘Holy crap. What is this?’ Everybody was looking around and then you realized it was the tire.”
Alexis Webbm setter, sophomore: “We get back from a game that we just lost so we’re all quiet and everybody’s trying to get some sleep. I thought at first we hit a car so it was like, ‘way to go bus driver.’ But he did everything correct.”
Yanitzza Bonfigilo, outside hitter, freshman: “Our bus driver got down and checked it out and then a little later a cop came on because he drove by and saw us and he asked if we were OK and what were we doing in Phoenix. We said we had a volleyball game and he left because we thought it was a blowout and we had somebody coming to fix it.”
Coach Lorayne Chandler: “A bus was no longer needed so they didn’t send the bus but we had to wait a couple of hours for the guy to come and change the tire – bus tires aren’t just something you can buy.”
Cradic: “I was kind of in the front of the bus, so I couldn’t sleep because of the beeping sound. We had the windows down so you could hear the cars flying by and our bus would shake.”
Webb: “The front kept beeping and it was so annoying. So then he had to turn it off and the AC stopped working so it got really hot. We tried falling asleep but cars kept passing by, so it was sort of freaky.”
Alana Harman, setter, junior: “I told my parents that we got a flat and that we would get back a lot later then I fell asleep. I’m an easy sleeper.”
After the tire was fixed, the bus tried to get back on the road. It didn’t last long.
Cradic: “I was like, ‘Oh cool, we’re going to get moving again.’ Then we moved a few feet and then it stopped again. It turned out it was the air pressure or something stupid, I don’t know what it was.”
With the coaches in constant contact with administrators back in Yuma, their cell phone batteries ended up dying and they’d have to use the players’ phones. In the middle of the night on the side of the road, Chandler got the OK from district administrators to just get a hotel.
Chandler: “(The driver) turned the bus on and it was still making that buzzing noise so it turned out it wasn’t just a bad tire. It was actually a mechanical problem. So they had to send a bus but it was one o’clock in the morning so to send a bus from Yuma would have taken three hours so we decided as coaches that wouldn’t work to have the girls on the side of the road for another three hours.”
“We did a lot of waiting. It was ‘Oh, we’ll have to wait a little longer.’ ‘We’ll have to wait another hour.’ ‘OK, it looks like you won’t have to go to school for before lunch.’ ‘OK, we’re going to have to get a hotel.’”
“Luckily the hotel we went to had a shuttle so it took about three shuttles and we got the girls in the hotel so we got down around 3:30ish.”
Bonfiglio: “Since we were freshmen we had to wait for the last shuttle. We had to take trips because it was only 11 to a seat. So by the time we got to the hotel, it was three-something.”
Kacey Wellard, setter, freshman: “In the morning, we ate the breakfast and the breakfast was delicious. It was so good. Then we got on the bus we talked and bonded on the way home.”
Webb: “We got to stay in a nice hotel and they had biscuits and gravy and I had like four plates of it. It was so good, oh my gosh.”
Cradic: “It kind of sucked but it was kind of fun. It was good bonding time for the Gila Ridge team.”
Bonfiglio: “We missed Friday so it wasn’t until we got back on Monday that everybody was asking what happened and if we were OK.”
Chandler: “Overall, it wasn’t something I’ve ever dealt with but it was good experience and I’ll put it on my resume.”