Fred Mann’s return to the Mountain Pointe gym, where eight volleyball state championship banners hang because of his guidance, on Thursday had an odd feel.
The architect of the Pride’s program came into the gym wearing a Perry hat and a tucked in shirt no less. Hugs, handshakes and kinds words were exchanged.
He was given maroon and gold balloons as the Mountain Pointe players approached him during the traditional handshake with the opposing coach.
Then the Pride staked Perry to a 5-0 lead in the first game of the match. That’s about where the pleasantries ended as Mountain Pointe went on to win 25-19, 25-13, 14-25 and 25-19.
“It was a little different coming back here and seeing everyone,” Mann said afterward. “I am glad the players are in good hands and I am in a good position, too.
“They have a good team over there and they showed it tonight.”
The Pride (4-1) took their first lead at 16-15 of the first game and didn’t let really let up after that to give them a nice boost heading into the Westwood tournament this weekend.
“It was kind of nerve wracking because of everything that was going on,” Pride coach Karen Gray said. “I didn’t really say anything to the players about it because I wanted them to be focused.”
About the only time Mountain Pointe wasn’t in control was the third game, which often happens after teams win the first two games, but did enough to hold off Perry (11-3).
“We had a bit of a lull, but came and played well in the final game,” Gray said. “We haven’t played in any tournaments yet so we haven’t had as many matches as most teams. We really seemed to put it all together for the first time.”
Christine Winkelman led Mountain Pointe with 12 kills, while Kaylah Lupoe added seven.
“It was interesting and different because we all love Coach Mann,” Winkelman said. “I am proud of the whole team because built some confidence heading into the tournament.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.