Tucson Amphitheater only had eight players available in Saturday's 4A-II volleyball state semifinal match against Scottsdale Notre Dame, but when it was over, it seemed like there were more of them on the court.
The top-seeded Panthers, playing fast and furious in all aspects of the game, defeated the fourth-seeded and defending state champion Saints 25-18, 25-15, 25-15 to advance to a title matchup with second-seeded Chandler Seton Catholic Monday evening at Phoenix Brophy.
"They're very good and very defensive, and not only that, our team sat back and waited for things to happen and we didn't play as good a defense they were playing clearly and that was the difference," said Notre Dame coach Lauren Harris.
Amphitheater coach Rachel Williams was pleased with her team's effort.
"The secret is love, the secret is heart," Williams said of her team's play this year.
"These girls have the biggest heart I have ever coached in my life. It comes from coming into the gym every single day and working their butts off and just putting everything they got into every single time they step on the court."
Amphitheater got a balanced effort, including 11 kills each from Zyonna Zortman and Erin Bradley.
The Panthers (18-0) also did a strong job of keeping the ball away from Notre Dame's Cassie Uribe and Jessica Maxwell, who combined for just 15 kills.
Williams said that the clash with Seton Catholic, the first time Amphitheater will see the Sentinels this year, will be "a lot of fun to watch".
"I hope my girls will rise up and be hungry," Williams said.
For Notre Dame's Harris, the loss of seniors Uribe, Maxwell and Liz Smith will make it a bit of a challenge for next year.
"We might have to rebuild for a year or two, but we'll get back in there," Harris said.