For Valley Vista girls volleyball coach David Chavez it was a game worth losing your hair over — in both respects.
Following a home win against rival Shadow Ridge on Oct. 22, the coach promised to allow his players to shave him bald if the traveled to their fellow Surprise school Oct. 24 and swept the Stallions to almost guarantee a Southwest Region title.
"I needed to get them motivated. It's a big rivalry," Chavez said. "They've a very good team and we're very young."
His locks seemed safe as Shadow Ridge (10-12, 6-2 Southwest Region) controlled the first set to win 25-18 then gutted out a Monsoon comeback to win 26-24.
Junior outside hitter Neely Eves finished the firs set with a pair of kills. She added three more in the second set, then senior middle blocker Abby Allen led a rally.
Trailing 21-18, Allen hit a kill and blocked the Monsoon to draw within one. Senior Maddy Davis scored to tie at 23. Then, facing set point, Shadow Ridge sophomore Gloria Moye hit a kill to tie and the Stallions scored two more to put the set away.
"We have worked really hard on our blocking game. We have two players on the outside that have never played all the way around," Shadow Ridge coach Linda Rodl said.
Then the visitors barely squeaked by in the next two sets, winning then 25-23 and 28-26. Valley Vista finished the match with a 15-7 fifth-set victory.
Freshman outside hitter Alina Nunez supported junior outside hitter Aaliyah Moore in the third set after the visitors attack had become predictable.
Moore hit 8 of her team's 11 kills in the second set. In the third set, Nunez added three kills and two aces while Moore picked her spots with four kills.
"I had a talk with my freshman outside hitter and I got into her some. She came out and was hitting great. She struggled in the first set and I was hard on her about helping to pass and play defense. She then stepped up," Chavez said.
Junior middle blocker Macey Salomon also stepped up during the comeback. She had two kills midway through the third set and a key block in the fourth.
Eves nearly brought it home for the Stallions hitting six fourth-set kills, including the one that set up the home team's first match point. Shadow Ridge trailed 22-16 at ne point.
The Monsoon tied it at 24 then Moore's attack gave the visitors a set point. Moye responded to tie and the Stallions earned another match point.
Refreshed, Moore again took over, hitting two straight kills and playing a role in set point as well.
"We actually set up practice yesterday to run a lot of two-balls and slides and then bringing Aaliyah in., so they didn't know where the ball would be going. We tried to get the attention away from her," Chavez said.
Valley Vista never let their city rival in the fifth set.
And by the final frame, Rodl was beyond frustrated with the officials' application of the double hit rule.
"I really do feel the outcome was determined by something else," Rodl said. "Consistency would be really nice, and knowledge of the game. I want to know where he got his double (hit) knowledge. David's yelling and I'm yelling. We can't both be wrong."
Valley Vista: Chavez 's team took care of business against Copper Canyon Tuesday to lock down a 10-0 region record and the program's first undisputed region title.
But the coach said he took more from their comeback to reach the fifth set at Shadow Ridge than any of those 10 wins.
"I told them before the fifth set that I didn't even care win or lose. We were down two sets and came back to win two. That's a victory in itself," Chavez said.
This young team - Raeana Collier is the only senior in the rotation - will see how much it improved in tonight's 6A play-in game.
The #17 seed Monsoon (27-9-2, 11-6 regular season) travel to #16 Phoenix Mountain Pointe (17-9-2, 6-11) at 6:30. The Pride won the season-opening match with Valley Vista in straight sets.
Shadow Ridge: The Stallions (13-12, 11-6) finished the season by defeating Westview.
Rodl said senior captains Allen, Annabelle Gregory and Charlize Ziehmer will get the team past the tough loss to Valley Vista.
And the coach's history at Scottsdale Christian gives her hope.
"The last time I won a state title, my team didn't win the region, so I told my players let's go for state," Rodl said.
To start, #21 Shadow Ridge will have to reverse its fortunes against #12 Liberty (20-14, 10-7) tonight in the play-in game.
West Valley Preps will cover this match