PHOENIX – There are times when the opposition just has too much working for it.
It doesn’t matter how well a team plays it is not going to happen.
The Desert Vista girls volleyball team ran into exactly that situation on Thursday night at Xavier and couldn’t do much about it in a 25-20, 25-11 and 25-20 loss in the Division I quarterfinals.
The Gators are not only trying to recapture the state title after missing out last season to stop a four-year run, but they were also playing the last home match in Xavier coach Tim McHale’s illustrious 23-year coaching tenure with the program.
“We played as one and tonight showed us what we can do when we do that,” senior middle blocker Megan O’Sullivan said. “We are all sad but then again it motivates us well. We wanted to make it special.”
The Gators (33-10) were in top form and the Thunder were never in rhythm. It probably wouldn’t have mattered how well Desert Vista played.
Maybe it wouldn’t have been a three-game sweep, but it was going to take an unbelievable effort to end the Gators season.
“I try to forget about it but it comes up,” McHale said. “There are little moments where it is the seniors (and his) last home match and everyone talks about it.”
Third-seeded Xavier advances to Saturday’s semifinals where it will play No. 2 Hamilton in the 4 p.m. semifinals at Mesquite. Top-seeded Horizon and No. 4 Mountain Ridge meet in the other semifinals for the right to play in the title game on Tuesday.
Eleventh-seeded Desert Vista (31-13) had leads early in all three matches, but were unable to sustain it. In Games 1 and 3, the Thunder were able to make runs at the end to make it interesting, but Game 2 showed the Gators’ strength.
Desert Vista led 5-4 but a long rally won by the Gators for a 6-5 advantage ignited a 20-6 run to finish it. Xavier had players contributing from all over the floor and that is when it is at its best.
“It was nice for us to get out early and quick and score some points to get in a rhythm,” McHale said. “That’s a key for us. For us to have the ability to get everybody involved and not one individual hitter is important.”
The loss ends the careers of eight seniors for the Thunder, who left before getting a chance to be interviewed.
It was a quality season and even though it didn’t end on a good note it was a nice rebound from last season.
“I don’t even know how many times I’ve locked horns with Molly (West) but I have nothing but respect for her program,” McHale said. “She has them ready to play every time out. It was just our night.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.