Arcadia was within two points of dispelling the demons and finally getting that long-awaited state title. No way they were going to let this get away against Flagstaff, right?
“I didn’t think there was any way, I thought we had it in the bag,” said Izzy Miller, the Titans’ leading hitter all year. “They (the Eagles) were a very competitive team and it’s whoever wants it more and they wanted it more tonight.”
However it can be explained, down two sets to none and 18-8 in the third set, top-seeded Flagstaff rallied Tuesday night to win the state Division II state volleyball championship over Arcadia at Mesquite High School.
“They played unbelievable,” Titans coach Josh Olshan said. “Going down 2-0 they could have easily folded the tent. They didn’t. They played amazing defense. No one has dug our hitters like that all season.”
Izzy Gosar had 16 kills and six blocks to lead the Eagles’ comeback after No. 6 Arcadia won the first two sets 25-23 and 26-24. Flagstaff won the next two sets, 25-23, and the final game, 15-10, to finish the season unbeaten, at 42-0-1.
“When other teams are falling apart, we pull together,” said Flagstaff setter Bree Davis. “When our points are going down, we pull together. We don’t like to lose and especially a match like this, we don’t want to lose.”
Arcadia, runners-up to Phoenix Sunnyslope a year ago, led 18-8 and 23-20 in the third set before a series of unforced errors, a kill and a block by Gosar gave Flagstaff a win. Arcadia stayed close in the fourth as neither team led by more than three points.
The teams were tied at 22 in that set before Gosar had a kill and Courtney Leffel (12 kills) scored an ace on the ensuing serve. Miller (24 kills, 18 digs) got a point back but when Bree Davis blocked the next Arcadia attempt, the Eagles had forced a deciding set.
“They made us hit out, they made us make those errors, so you have to give them all the credit in the world,” Olshan said.
The final set went back and forth as Arcadia’s Jensen Barton blocked Leffel to tie it at 8. But the Titans made three straight unforced errors and could not rally. Gosar had a kill for the 13th point and then put it away at the net off an Arcadia attack to end the match.
Having lived all season with Boise State-bound Miller, Barton (17 kills, 16 digs and 24 assists) and Stacey Benton (12 kills 19 assists), the Titans became predicable in the final sets. Once Flagstaff figured out how to defend them, Arcadia didn’t have any other option.
“What do we do switch it up?” Olshan said. “Set the girls we haven’t set all year? Come on, you go with who brought you. A good team can stop you if you only have three weapons but if you have made this far with only three weapons, that’s pretty impressive.”