The idea of letting down a mentor can be a powerful influence.
And it probably saved the Mountain Pointe boys volleyball team’s season.
The Pride entered Tuesday’s match with Hamilton, a team seeded among the top 15, on the verge of being left out of the Division I postseason.
It is not exactly the going away present the players wanted for coach Fred Mann, who earlier this season announced he was leaving Mountain Pointe for Perry after 20 years.
The Pride pulled it together and played probably its best match of the year to knock off Hamilton, 3-1, to secure a spot.
“It was probably the pressure of having to get it done,” senior libero Sergio Wade said. “We couldn’t let Fred lose his last match at Mountain Pointe. We played with an intensity and focus that wasn’t their all year.”
It might be a good sign when the postseason starts on Saturday when the Pride enters the 24-team single elimination tournament. The brackets weren’t released until after deadline, but the Pride was expected to be seeded at about No. 19.
They were projected to have a first-round match against No. 14 Centennial at Gilbert at noon with the winner playing No. 3 Gilbert at 3:30 p.m. It could change with some additional calculations, but all the results appeared to be in on Wednesday afternoon.
The Pride, who went 10-7 in power ranking games, is able to put its full starting lineup on the court with Wade going back to his natural position of libero instead of filling in at outside hitter.
“We have everyone back and playing in their normal positions,” senior middle blocker Sam Fuller said. “We really haven’t been our real team until now. We have confidence and we want to go on a long postseason run (for Mann).”
Mann was proud of the stance the team took in the regular season finale and thinks it is a good sign of things to come.
“We will have to see who we get matched up with, but I saw a lot of positives (in the win over Hamilton),” he said. “We lost in three (games) to Hamilton early on so we have gotten better. We are finishing now and hanging on to our lead.”
Desert Vista has been doing it all year and the Thunder was in line to earn the state’s top seed after an impressive 17-0 run in power ranking matches.
The Thunder will host matches on Saturday and host the winner of the 16th and 17th seed. As of Wednesday it meant Catalina and Sandra Day O’Connor would face off before taking on Desert Vista at 3:30 p.m.
If the Thunder holds up to its top ranking they will play the quarterfinals Tuesday at home, semifinals Thursday and title match on Saturday, both of which are at Gilbert.
“There are four or five teams I think can win it,” Mann said. “I don’t know who it is and you never know what might happen with a team like us or someone else getting hot at the right time.”
After all, it won’t be much of a send off unless it ends in a win.
“I think I get it in us,” Fuller said. “All we needed was a little push and we had that against Hamilton. We owe it to him to go out and battle. It might not end up in a championship, but we are going to play hard and with the intensity we just showed the rest of the way.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.