Mesa High's girls volleyball team has seen several opponents of late get out the broom and whisk them away. For a pleasant change Wednesday night for Mesa coach Amy Strawn and the Jackrabbit faithful, it has Mesa High that did the house cleaning.
Leading from start to finish in the first set and playing to its potential most of the night when Highland wasn't making errors, Mesa rattled off a 25-21, 25-22, 25-17 triumph in a Division I match at Jackrabbit Gym.
“That's the cleanest, most composed match we've played all season,” Strawn said. “We've lost to some very good teams and to some teams we shouldn't have lost to. Tonight, they had a choice and came to play. I loved the confidence and poise we showed.”
Mesa evened its season mark at 7-7 and mproved to 2-5 in power-point matches. Entering Wednesday's match, Mesa had dropped three of four power-point matches after a strong 5-2 showing in the House of Payne Invitational at Chandler High. They Lady Jackrabbits were swept last Thursday and Monday and weren't looking good. Wednesday's result energized Mesa, which competes this weekend at the annual Westwood Tourament of Champions Friday and Saturday. Mesa hosts eight of the tournament's 37 schools in pool play on Friday. Among Mesa's power-point match losses are Corona del Sol, Desert Vista and Xavier.
Mesa was good in all phases with senior outside hitter Paige Gardner pacing the attack with 15 kills. Senior middle Drea Farnsworth did a little of everything with nine kills, three blocks and two aces. Senior libero Gloria Tukuafu kept the offense in stride in serve/receive.
Strawn also cited Chalene Smith's play for providing a spark. Smith, a junior, had seen sporadic playing time prior to Wednesday. Smith was on the court for her most extensive playing time of the year.
“Chalene served 11 of 11 and hit every spot I asked her to,” Strawn said. “She's worked her way into more playing time.”
Highland (7-5 overall, 3-2 power-point matches), displayed very little rhythm the entire match. The Lady Hawks put up their best fight at the end of the second set, rallying from a 23-16 deficit before falling 25-22. They grabbed their biggest lead in of the night (6-3 in the third set), but lost that lead and stumbled to the finish. It wasn't the same Highland team that reached the semifinals of the gold division at the House of Payner Invite. Highland had five net violations, five double hits and did not pass or hit well.
Senior middle blocker Daeleigh Castile led Highland with nine kills and junior middle Sienna Sawer added five kills and three blocks. Kanani Hiapo led the way in assists with 14. Highland looks to rebound Friday and Saturday at the TOC playing its Friday slate of pool matches in the tournament at Red Mountain High School.