Things did not look good for the girls’ volleyball team from Phoenix Sunnyslope as it began its championship match of the Goldwater Volleyball Festival against Scottsdale Chaparral on Saturday night (Oct. 5).
The Vikings were a bit listless and appeared out of sync. Chaparral, with its tall, talented young front line, also had something to do with it.
Sunnyslope fell 25-17, but rebounded to take Game 2 25-16 and then won the decisive third game 15-13 to win the 32-team event at Phoenix Barry Goldwater.
The Vikings now essentially will get a week off from competitive play, getting in some practices as the school has its fall break.
The girls will be in a good frame of mind, and know very well that the situation could be much different had they not been able to rally.
Sunnyslope ran up an early seven-point lead in Game 2 and increased it to 10 going down the stretch.
Game 3 was much closer. Sunnyslope had a 14-10 lead and thought it had won the match with a kill by sophomore outside hitter Skylar Wine, but the officials reversed their call and ruled the shot out of bounds, keeping Chaparral alive.
The Firebirds cut the lead to 14-12 but returned one long out of bounds and then were victimized by a kill by another Sunnyslope sophomore, Emma Wright.
Asked what turned things around for her team, Sunnyslope coach Amber LeTarte said, “We started to believe in ourselves. The defense picked it up. Once we got that confidence, the momentum started to carry us.’’
A major factor was the play of senior outside hitter Jenny Thompson, who had Chaparral ducking for cover with her powerful kills.
LeTarte has coached Thompson for awhile, but still marvels at the way she plays.
“She was on fire in this tournament,’’ LeTarte said.
“She is little in some ways (5-9), but she can jump out of the gym and pound the ball. She has so much power.’’
LeTarte is happy for the break, allowing her players to recharge their batteries.
“This was a good tournament. There are a lot of good teams here and it is good for us to have some confidence,’’ she said.
Peoria Centennial captured third place in the tournament with a win over Glendale Cactus.