Mountain Ridge High School girls volleyball coach Keith Perrin’s welcome into the 5A Northwest Region was anything but easy.
While the Mountain Lions opened region play Sept. 7 against Valley Vista, Tuesday’s match up with Boulder Creek was the coach’s first step through what could be a mine field of competition in the 5A Northwest Region.
And that step proved big as Mountain Ridge eeked out a 3-2 win (25-11, 25-17, 19-25, 23-25, 15-13) against the Jaguars to take early control in the standings Tuesday.
“This gives us a big push in the region,” Perrin said. “(Boulder Creek) came into the game 3-0, so with the win tonight we move to 3-1 and it gives us something to move forward with.”
But the difference between moving forward and a heart-wrenching region defeat was inches as Sarah Parsons’ tip sailed just over the Jaguar block and junior Haley Owen’s dig landed out of bounds for the deciding point. The entire moment lasted forever, Parsons said, but when it landed “there was a sight of relief.”
"For a second I wasn’t sure it would fall,” Parsons said. “It was a great match. Anytime we face Boulder Creek it’s tough. They really push the limits against us.”
The Mountain Lions opened a 9-2 lead in Game 5 on a kill from Beecroft off a Jaguar return. Boulder Creek coach Sarah Widhalm called timeout to allow her squad to regain its composure and it answered with a 10-3 run, tying the game when Mountain Ridge outside hitter sent a tip wide. Owen followed with a service ace to give Boulder Creek its first lead in Game 5.
Taylor Jones answered with a pass over the net that fell in the back corner to tie the game at 13. The junior outside hitter followed with a tip to reclaim the lead for Mountain Ridge, setting up Parsons’ heroics.
“I’d rather win in three (games), but five is still great,” Perrin said. “By winning in five everyone on the team is playing and everyone has a piece in the win, not just the starters.”
Mountain Ridge had a chance to sew the match up in three but Boulder Creek went on a 13-4 run to take a 21-12 lead capped by a Kaitlin Trujillo service ace. Parsons killed the next point off a set from her sister Rachel Parsons to spark a modest rally. But with the score 23-19, Trujillo placed a tip into open space in the Mountain Lions end of the court and took Game 3 when Michelle Peterson’s kill attempt sailed long.
Game 4 saw more Mountain Ridge agony when it lost a 4-point lead but battled back from a 4-point deficit to tie things up on a Jaguar net violation. Boulder Creek’s Felicia Zerwas followed with a tip, but the Mountain Lions fought back on a Megan Ryan kill.
The Jaguars would push their lead to 23-21 before Mountain Ridge capitalized on a hitting error and kill by Kayley Siekmann to tie the game. Boulder Creek senior Rachel Lentine stopped the rally with a kill and the Mountain Lions closed the door on themselves with a hitting error that forced Game 5.
“As a coach, we sometimes make decisions that don’t work out,” Perrin said. “After Game 2, we went with some different combinations and I think there was confusion on the court and then (Boulder Creek) goes on a big run that we couldn’t stop. They went on another run in Game 4, but we came back, unfortunately we lost in the end.”
A 15-4 run in Game 1 that saw Boulder Creek draw four net violations and commit six hitting errors helped propel Mountain Ridge to claim the opener.
The momentum carried into Game 2 as the Mountain Lions turned a tie game at 9 into a 25-17 rout with a 9-1 run. Ryan kept the points rolling with a pair of service aces and a Jones kill to push the lead to 18-10.
While Mountain Ridge came away with the important region win, it lost a key component in Seikmann. The sophomore setter went up for a tip early in Game 5 and came down hard on her right knee.
Perrin carried Seikmann off the court and later returned to the bench with her knee heavily bandaged and on ice. Perrin said he wouldn’t know more until x-rays were performed.
Up next for Mountain Ridge is a match at Kingman Wednesday before facing rival Deer Valley Sept. 21.