GILBERT - The Mountain Pointe girls volleyball team walked out of the gym Tuesday night at Highland High knowing its season should not be over.

Cold reality, however, is that fact that the Pride was eliminated 3 games to 1 despite having commanding, match-point leads in two of the games they lost.

"We'd get to game point and play like the game was under our belt," senior opposite hitter Mikaela Novitsky said.

Problem is the volleyball uniform does not come with accessories and it is why Highland, the seventh seed, won 26-24, 13-25, 26-24 and 25-22 in Class 5A Division I state tournament action.

Highland was able to erase a 21-12 deficit with a 14-3 run in Game 1 in which Mountain Pointe had five shots at match point.

Mountain Pointe, the 10th seed, dominated throughout Game 2 as Erika Papadaes, just back from an injury, reeled off five straight service points in helping the Pride to the win.

The Pride (16-7) was dominant to start Game 3 as well, building a 13-5 lead, expanding it to 22-15 and had a game point advantage at 24-18.

That was when the Hawks (19-11) seemed to be at their best, tearing off eight straight points for the 26-24 win. Brianna Vieth, a junior outside hitter, had the game-winning kill in Highland's first two wins.

"We had 18 errors in that first match and that was a phenomenal comeback," Highland coach Brian Hiapo said. "Mountain Pointe played well and was scrappy. I picked up a couple of white hairs in the back.

"It was a good match that could have gone either way."

Mountain Pointe coach Fred Mann said the team did the opposite of what it needed to do after reaching game point in Games 1 and 3.

"We had a huge lead and we felt like it could have gone the other way," he said. "You have to credit Highland for hanging in, playing good defense and scrapping. In retrospect, I would have liked to have been more aggressive when the game was on the line."

The Pride, who won the East Valley Region title with a 9-1 record, will return nine players next season, but will sorely miss their seniors - Rachel Winkelman, Lindsay Adelmeyer, Papadaes and Novitsky.

"It stinks getting kicked out the first round of playoffs, especially when we were doing so good," Novitsky said. "We came out fast and excited. We were beating them pretty well, but we let them back in because we got comfortable.

"It's so tough because I am done."

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