Three times in the regular season No. 5 Mountain Pointe and No. 1 Hamilton met, with the Huskies winning all three matchups.
On Tuesday night, the Pride got another shot at the top-ranked Huskies in the semifinals of the 6A state volleyball playoffs.
With incredible defensive play, allowing them to stay alive in multiple volleys throughout the match, the Pride finally came out on top over Hamilton, defeating the Huskies 26-24, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21 in four sets.
“We have gotten whipped by them all year long,” Mountain Pointe head coach Karen Gray said. “I always said we would beat them when it counts and we are very excited but we have another match to play.”
The Pride’s defense, led by seniors Avery Luoma and Nura Muhammad at the net, came up with major blocks to stuff kill attempts by the Huskies Heaven Harris and Preslie Anderson.
Along with the defense at the net, Libero play by the Pride’s Anna Morse, along with junior Brianna Lopez, Mountain Pointe was able to take away multiple would-be points by the Huskies to hold the lead in the second set and go up 2-0 in the match.
“It’s insane, I believe I have some of the best defenders, they just don’t give up,” Gray said. “They have bruises and blood on their uniform and that’s how they have played all year and it's amazing.”
Hamilton kept fighting in the third set as it tried to avoid being swept by the Pride. The offensive play by Anderson kept the Huskies alive as they were able to claw their way to a 25-22 win.
The impressive play from Anderson continued in the fourth set after the Huskies found themselves down 10-0 to the Pride. With powerful kills and momentum-boosting blocks, Anderson led the Huskies comeback before they ultimately fell short.
Aside from Anderson’s dynamic play, service errors became the kryptonite for the Pride in allowing Hamilton to make the fourth set close. Serves would venture out of play or would be driven straight into the net on multiple occasions, causing frustration for Gray.
“There was some sort of weird wind current in here, this side especially,” Gray laughed while pointing to the East side of the gym. “We will work on it and just try to keep it simple.”
Even with the mistakes, the Pride still managed to upset the the Huskies in convincing fashion, as they now move on to face No. 3 Corona Del Sol on Wednesday night for the 6A title.
“We take it one match at a time,” Gray said. “We will celebrate but we will just focus on playing and doing what we do.”
* Alvira is a sports journalism student at Arizona St. and intern at Tribune.