Before even thinking about coming back to win the final three sets and advance in the 4A volleyball playoffs, Deer Valley had to fight off six match points to survive the third set.
Remarkably, the #9 seeded Skyhawks did both at #8 Phoenix Thunderbird Nov. 4, battling back from deficits of 18-13 and 24-21 in the third set to win 30-28.
Then, after the Titans seemed to be in command of the fifth set up 12-9, Deer Valley won by scoring the final six points of the match.
Improved defensive coverage allowed the Skyhawks to unleash big hitters like junior middle blocker Amanda Hardt (14 kills in the final three sets) and senior outside hitter Liz Rupp (11 kills in the last three sets). Deer Valley advances to the quarterfinals with the 19-25,17-25, 30-28, 25-18, 15-12 win.
“When my team plays together like that, they’re unstoppable,” Deer Valley Jackie Wallace said. “Amanda had the game of her life tonight and so did Liz. Emme (Fellens) was all over the court, playing six rotations. They get their energy off of each other and I felt like they really wanted it. They were not giving up. They’re gamers and I’m so proud of them.”
This comeback allows Deer Valley (25-14) a third shot at region rival and top seed Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep (34-5) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
This matchup seemed very unlikely well into the third game at Thunderbird. The Skyhawks were not particularly close in the first two sets, and looked on their way out down 18-13 in the third and making mistakes in defensive coverage and stunting their offense with poor passing.
“Game three the defense got us back into it. You can’t run the middle unless you have excellent passing,” Rupp said.
Wallace said she knew coming into to match that it would be difficult. She said the Titans are amazingly coached by Carly Price.
And the home team is particularly adept with its tips. Hardt said Wallace helped a lot by telling us where to go and how to read it to make sure we’re getting those tips.
But in the first half of the match the Skyhawks appeared scattered trying to cover the area between the two rows.
“We practiced knowing they were going to tip a lot. That’s what they’re good at and they got their kills from it. We were hammering that point during time outs, be in your spots. The will and the want to win came out,” Wallace said.
Facing three match points, the Skyhawks used a Rupp kill and an ace by senior libero Azlynn Vazquez to tie the match. Rupp kills ended two other potential match points.
Hardt’s bomb gave Deer Valley a 29-28 lead and then won the set on a Thunderbird hit out of bounds.
“We always said, ‘Leave this gym playing the way you want to play. Don’t leave it with regrets,’ Hardt said.
#WestValleyPreps Down 3 match points @deer_high fights back to tie the set, then staves off match point at 27-26 on this 40-second rally. @dvhsathletics1 eventually wins the set 30-28 and is down 2-1 but full of momentum pic.twitter.com/fsSAc6hEIK— Richard Smith (@RsmithYWV) November 5, 2021
The third set clearly knocked Thunderbird off kilter in the fourth set, as Deer Valley burst out to a 20-8 lead.
Junior outside hitter Sam Gloria joined Hardt and Rupp providing the firepower for that lead.
“We love each other and we want each other to do well. It’s amazing when your best friend gets that kill.,” Hardt said.
The Titans suddenly regained their equilibrium, scoring seven straight points.
Though the home team got within six points, Rupp tied the match with two straight kills.
“We all love volleyball so getting kills will obviously bring up our energy. We kept feeding off that energy and kept expanding it to the whole team,” Rupp said.
Thunderbird was back on its game by the fifth set, using tips and serves to lead 8-6 and 12-9, when the Skyhawks called their final time out.
Consecutive kills by Gloria, Hardt and Rupp tied the set. Gloria pounded down one more for a 13-12 Deer Valley lead and two Titans mistakes sealed the comeback.
Rupp said her team has made major rallies before but she never been a part of anything like that in such a big match.
“It took us a while to get our mojo. The first couple of sets, that wasn’t our team. That third game was like a turning point,” Wallace said. “It’s never one person. It’s a total team win and that really was a total team win. Almost every one of our subs went in. Our communication got better.”
#WestValleyPreps Down 12-9 @deer_high scores the final 6 points of the match to win the set 15-12 and complete an improbable three-set comeback @dvhsathletics1 wins 3-2 and is on to the 4A quarterfinals pic.twitter.com/sF66jn1S2f— Richard Smith (@RsmithYWV) November 5, 2021
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here