Back in 2003 when Venese Hiapo was interviewing for the Chandler-Gilbert Community College volleyball coaching job, she found herself having to provide her vision to the interviewing panel.
She was asked what she could bring to the program that it hadn’t had before.
“A national championship,” was her response. “Then I thought, ‘what did I just say?’ ”
Now her response seems quite prophetic as the Coyotes will play for their first-ever National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championship after defeating Vincennes University (Indiana) 30-19, 30-22, 30-23 Friday at Scottsdale Community College.
“There are no words to describe this feeling,” said sophomore KT Creech, who finished the match with 14 kills, nine digs and three blocks. "We're going to come out strong."
Today, the Coyotes will play Kishwaukee College (Malta, Ill.) at 6 p.m. at Scottsdale Community College for the championship.
In a September tournament, also at Scottsdale CC, Chandler-Gilbert defeated Kishwaukee 30-21, 30-23.
“They’re going to change things,” said Lindsey Palmer, who had 11 kills and 11 digs. “It will be a long, fun game.”
Against the Trailblazers, Chandler-Gilbert dominated the first two games. The Coyotes never trailed in either.
In the third game, there were 11 ties and six lead changes. At 15-15, Chandler-Gilbert’s superior training regiment manifested itself.
“Our physical trainers have done such a wonderful job,” said Hiapo. “They (the players) train for 11 months. I told them this (tough training) is the reason you’re here.”
The Coyotes then went on a 12-5 run.
When the Trailblazers’ last hit sailed past the back line, the Coyotes won the game 30-23 and won a date with destiny.
Freshman Meagan Bluth tied for the team lead in kills with 14. She also had 14 digs.
Freshman setter Jenna Mailou had 42 assists and seven digs. Annie Auxier had eight kills, seven digs and two blocks.