Hand clap

Mountain Pointe celebrates during its win over Desert Vista on Tuesday.

By Billy Hardiman, Special to Tribune

What was anticipated to be a close girls volleyball match between 6A Conference rivals, turned in to a devastating loss for Desert Vista Tuesday night.

Desert Vista, which had the home court advantage, was trying to gain some momentum heading into the second half of the season against Mountain Pointe, but ultimately lost the match in four sets, 25-14, 20-25, 17-25, 16-25.

The Thunder came out strong in the first match. Between running an efficient defense and capitalizing on Mountain Pointe’s serving errors, Desert Vista took an 11-point lead half way through the set. Riding on this momentum, the Thunder never let Mountain Pointe get within four points.

Mountain Pointe struggled greatly in the first set. Several serving errors and miscommunication hindered the Pride’s ability to put points on the board. However, coach Karen Gray wasn’t expecting anything different.

“This is what we’ve been doing…game after game it takes us a whole set to get going. We miss seven or eight serves, so when we start getting our serves in, we are able to start playing and doing what we do,” Gray said.

In the second set, Mountain Pointe looked like an entirely different team. The Pride was able to reduce its serving errors and pick up speed on offesce. Senior middle hitter Nura Muhammad had four unanswered kills in a row. Muhammad attributed high energy as to the reason Mountain Pointe won the set 25-20.

“When we play with high energy we have a better outcome,” Muhammad said.

Going in to the third set, Mountain Pointe continued to dominate the court. The Pride started to recognize weak spots in Desert Vista’s defense and gave themselves an eight-point lead early in the set. Desert Vista’s coach Molly West saw the strategic placement Mountain Pointe was using on offense.

“The reality is we are not in our normal line up right now, we’ve got a lot of injuries and I think the other team picked up on that and took advantage of it, we have girls playing in position they don’t normally play in,” West said.

Mountain Pointe’s senior outside hitter Chapin Gray, noticed the vast difference in her team’s performance during the second and third set.

“When we started to pick it up on offense everything was running perfectly, our setter was pulling balls out of the net and allowing our hitters to get those big kills,” Chapin said.

Finally, in the fourth set, Desert Vista lost focus and energy. The Thunder struggled to keep the ball in play, especially with Muhammad and Gray hitting hard at the net. The two Mountain Pointe hitters shared six kills in a row, and Desert Vista couldn’t keep up as the Pride won 25-16.

Senior outside hitter Hailey Dirrigl was frustrated with Desert Vista’s performance during the game.

“We could have worked our hitters better, our middles need to get more balls, the libero was taking too many last touch hits and we needed better setting decisions,” Dirrigl said.

Looking towards future games, West hopes to see some improvements within the team. She still believes her young team has great potential.

“The biggest thing is decision making and working together, they need better communication front to back, but we will take this game as a learning experience and move forward,” West said.

* Perkins is a sports journalism student at Arizona State.

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