SCOTTSDALE - Desert Vista girls volleyball coach Molly West feels like the Thunder are poised to make a deep run in the postseason.
The gate, as she put it, is right in front of them and all they have to do is step through it.
It started on Tuesday with a 25-19, 25-21 and 25-15 road sweep of No. 6 Chaparral as No. 11 Desert Vista moves on to Thursday’s semifinals where No. 3 Xavier awaits.
“We haven’t peaked yet which is kind of good and we are still getting better,” West said. “Hopefully we got some momentum going into their place. We haven’t hit our stride yet. We are at the gate and we have to pull it out on Thursday. It's going to be a tough match I think we are ready.”
The Thunder (31-12) looked exceptionally sharp against the Firebirds (19-12) as several players contributed in various ways.
Lexi Glover’s serving and digging, Michelle Steagall’s on point setting, Brooke Honeycutt blasting away, Sydney Schumacher getting kills from every angle, freshman Hailey Harward playing beyond her age, Peyton Shuckhart doing a little of everything and Vanessa Wesley blocking and hitting like she’s been healthy all season.
Add it all up and the Thunder were the only lower seed to advance to the second round.
“We are really determined and want to win really bad,” Schumacher said. “We (the eight seniors) know it is our last chance and we want to take it as far as we can.”
Chaparral had its chances as it lead 16-13 in Game One and 12-8 in Game 2, but let the Thunder back into it each time. The Firebirds didn’t seem to play with the same emotion in Game 3 as Desert Vista jumped out to a 7-2 advantage and never trailed.
The Thunder have Xavier, which had won four straight straight titles before falling in the semifinals last year, next. The two programs have split meetings this year.
“It’s a tough place to play,” West said. “We are right there.”
Honeycutt has 10 kills and Harward had seven. Steagall had seven kills while Schumacher had five kills and nine digs. Glover added 13 digs.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 15 Mountain Pointe was eliminated No. 2 Hamilton 25-22, 25-12, 25-10.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.