It seemed like 2009. Horizon and Desert Mountain in the 5A Divsion II volleyball championship match. The duel takes five games to decide. The final game ends 15-13.
For Horizon coach Valerie McKenzie, maybe there isn’t much difference.
Horizon prevailed over its Desert Valley Region adversary, 25-27, 25-21, 28-26, 22-25, 15-13.
That was after game point in the first set, a 7-0 run to win the second and after the Huskies looked ready to end the match in four games instead of five.
“It’s just as good this time, it tastes just as good,” she said after the Huskies successfully defended its 5A-II state volleyball championship on Wednesday night at Mesquite. “It wasn’t like I was thinking, ‘Repeat, repeat.’
"We were just thinking, ‘Play good volleyball, play good volleyball.’”
Just as they did last year, the No. 2 seed Huskies had a hard time putting away Desert Mountain, which reached the final after upsetting top-seeded Tucson Ironwood Ridge on Saturday.
“This one of those matches that is always extremely competitive, we always look forward to playing Horizon, it’s a grudge match every time,” Wolves coach Shannon Bullock said. “I definitely thought this was going to be our year.”
This time, Horizon, led by senior outside hitter Melissa Hess, got some early momentum but fell behind 12-8 in the final game.
Horizon had trouble with Desert Mountain’s blockers – Molly McDonald, Eckel and Sorenson – most of the night. The Huskies had more success attack down the sides or cross court. Nikki Hess got some key points in the third-game win and freshman Sierra Nobley played like anything but a first-year player. But in the end it may just have been Horizon’s night.
“Their block was awesome, so we had to work the ball around more,” McKenzie said of the Wolves’ net play. “We had to cover better. It all mounted to the fact that we had great defense, we never gave up and we just stayed solid throughout.”
Horizon led 10-3 in the fourth game until Desert Mountain ran off six straight points with Madison Eckel leading the way. Eckel then helped finish off the Huskies with two consecutive blocks, one on freshman Tess Clark and then on Nikki Hess. Jocelyn Leichner’s ace ended the fourth game and gave the Wolves all the momentum going into the decider.
Desert Mountain opened up with a 4-1 lead, but Horizon scored four straight to take it back. The teams see-sawed until Eckel put down a dink just inside the corner at the net to give Desert Mountain a 10-8 advantage. A Paige Pfeiffer kill and a Husky error put the Wolves up 12-8.
Then came the errors.
Pfeiffer’s next attack was just a bit long and sure-handed Rheanna Sorenson missed a set. Horizon setter Lexi Anderson got the ball to Nobley for a kill and the Wolves made two more mistakes. Anderson set Nobley again and Horizon had a 14-12 lead. Sorenson found Pfieffer for another point but Nobley finished off the match with a kill.
“Being able to remain in the moment, and play one ball, one point at a time,” Bullock said of what her team couldn’t do at the end. “Sometimes we put the cart in front of the horses.”