The No. 2-seed Highland boys volleyball team was tested to the end, but ultimately moved on to the semifinals of the Division I boys state volleyball tournament with a 27-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-19 victory over No. 10 Perry on Tuesday night.
The Hawks (27-6-1) will face No. 3 Mesa on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinals at Gilbert HS.
The first two games were neck-and-neck as both team showed an unwillingness to give up leads. The second game was especially compelling. Highland led by as many as six (17-11) only to see the Pumas (34-10-2) come all the way back and win on an ace.
“The match was frustrating for us. But that second game was a complete team effort. It was great to see the boys come together and pull it out.” Perry coach Brian Pomerantz said.
After that comeback, however, Highland led throughout most of games three and four to move on.
“We have a lot of talent. Our serving has been great for the past six weeks but (Tuesday) it really hurt us.” Pomerantz said.
For the Hawks it was a matter of staying composed and doing what they are supposed to do.
“Perry is a lot better team than they are given credit for. They have some big hitters and they battled back in game two. We had a strong team effort throughout the match and we look forward to a tough match with Mesa.” Highland assistant coach Darrin Ashment said.
Hayden Nielson led Highland with 16 kills. Ryan Morrison added 14 kills while Jared Greene contributed 13 kills and three blocks.
Jalen Cross had a great game for the Pumas. Cross finished with 14 kills and was a difference-maker at times when on the floor.