No. 4 seed Gilbert got a scare Tuesday night in the middle sets from No. 13 Chaparral, but its bookend wins in the first and fourth sets were more representative of the host Tigers.
With a big night on the attack from kills leader Kaitlyn Lines and strong serving, Gilbert turned back Chaparral in four sets, 25-13, 23-25, 25-18 and 25-15 in a first-round Division I state volleyball tournament match at The Jungle.
Gilbert (33-7) advances to Thursday's quarterfinals where it faces one of its three nemesis' from the season — No. 5 Xavier. Xavier swept No. 12 Highland on Tuesday to reach the quarters. Chaparral finished 21-12, a good year considering it had so many players new to extensive plahying time.
“We had a bunch of young kids playing their first state tournament match,” Gilbert coach Joe Hesse said. “There were times we didn't play well, butsome were young in their first playoff match. We served pretty well, which is something we have to do. Chaparral came back after the first se. You knew they weren't going to quit. They got excited and motivated and kept the pressure on.”
Gilbert won the opening set with ease. Lines, a freshman outside hitter, gave Chaparral a taste of what was in store with eight of her match-high and season-high 26 kills. Gilbert had four aces in the set and looked the part of a No. 4 seed.
Chaparral, which sent out pretty much an entirely new lineup this season after graduating nine seniors, showed plenty of resolve in the second set. They blocked much better and produced 11 kills compared to four in the first set. Chaparral never trailed in the set and held fast to a three-point lead most of the way. Gilbert managed to tie the set at 22 and 23, but a Chaparral block and kill by sophomore Lauren Stivrins helped close the set.
Gilbert amassed a 15-7 lead in the third set and seemed to have erased Chaparral's second-set momentum. Stivrins took advantage of attack chances and at the same time Gilbert fell into a funk with a varitey of errors. That span saw Chaparral tie the set at 17. Gilbert buckled down scoring eight of the final nine points, using four successive kills (one by Heather Ball and three from Lines) to win the set.
Gilbert was solid throughout the fourth set, jumping to a 10-3 lead. The Tigers endured a brief lull, with Chaparral cutting the lead to 15-12. Gilbert's serving and attacking was spot on in finishing off the Firebirds.
“They hurt us with their serving, no question,” Chaparral coach Kolette Hysong said. “This was the first state match for most of our players since we lost so many seniors. We generally block well, but we were inconsistent with that tonight.”
Gilbert got nine kills from sophomore Makenna Martin and was led on defense by sophomore libero Kameryn Hill with 38 digs. Stivrins led Chaparral unofficially with 14 kills.