While the victory was important, the confidence it provides going forward is what has the Skyline girls volleyball program excited.
The Coyotes were placed in the lower division Bronze Bracket at the House of Payne after pool play began on Friday. Skyline played well enough on Saturday to win the bracket by beating Dobson in the semifinals and Casteel in the championship game.
“It gives us confidence heading into next week,” senior middle hitter Lacie Tenney said. “We played probably our best volleyball of the year. It showed us we can be pretty good when we play together.”
The Coyotes (3-9 overall) lost their first six matches of the tournament before pulling it together late Saturday afternoon.
“We are still learning about each other,” first-year coach Vee Hiapo said. “It’s been frustrating at times but they showed something to win the two matches.”
Skyline lost the first set against Dobson (23-25, 24-19, 15-13) and Casteel (21-25, 25-16, 15-13) so the Coyotes showed a bit of backbone in coming back to top their last two opponents.
“Once we started communicating and finishing our hits where we were supposed to instead of just hitting it anywhere we won,” senior outside hitter Clarissa Fernandez said. “We have to play like that every time we play.”
Dobson nearly pulled off the win against Skyline but were unable to close out the match.
“We are young, some of older players are coming off ACL injuries,” Mustangs coach William Robinson said. “One of the things we have to learn is how to close out those matches. It’s like we get into the red zone but can’t score.”
The Mustangs (2-9 overall) lost all seven matches in the tournament so clearly the team is struggling in some areas, but Robinson said the improvement is there.
“We are playing better,” he said. “If you saw in our first game compared to where we are now you can see a difference. We have some good seniors stepping up and some underclassmen buying in so there is some improvement even though the record didn’t show it.”
The team will receive a boost when Hamilton transfer Desi Quoetone, a setter, becomes eligible, and if the Mustangs can continue improve they can be a more competitive team as the season progresses.
“When we all started we didn’t know each all that well,” senior libero Lili Starr staid. “I feel like we will be a much stronger team once we get (Quoetone) and we get to know each other even more.”
Several other Mesa programs were at the House of Payne tournament.
Mesa went 5-1 to qualify for the silver bracket as Annie Hatch made the all-tournament team. The Jackrabbits went 5-0 on Saturday to win the Silver bracket while Red Mountain went and Desert Ridge both went 3-3 heading into the final matches of the tournament.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.