With football taking such a predominant portion of the stage, it’s worth noting the girls volleyball state tournament got underway on Tuesday night — not to mention cross country and swimming/diving state championships are coming up this weekend — and just because there’s been an unfortunate lack of ink, doesn’t mean the tournaments are going to lack talent, excitement or drama.
They rarely do, and while No. 1 Horizon and No. 2 Hamilton have separated themselves a bit in the Division I pecking order, the rest of the tournament will be full of worthy matches.
Take Tuesday night’s Mountain Pointe-Perry matchup. The schools previously met Sept. 19 (a 3-1 victory for Mountain Pointe), but once again, former Pride coach Fred Mann (now at Perry) faces his former school. Beyond that, however, is what he’s done in his first year at Perry. The Pumas set a plethora of school records during the regular season, including a program-best 12-6 record in power rankings matches, and by far the most victories in a season (25 entering Tuesday’s match).
Mesa made the tournament at No. 15 which is a good story for the Jackrabbits and Gilbert (No. 4) is always strong.
Yes, the road to next Tuesday’s championship probably runs through Horizon, Xavier and Hamilton, but the beauty of single-elimination tournaments is “one bad night, and...”
Could Campo Verde be the Horizon of Division II? The Coyotes ran the table in power rankings matches, and played the likes of Gilbert, Perry, Highland, Chaparral and Desert Vista, mostly in tournaments to be ready for state tournament-caliber competition the rest of the way. The Coyotes could meet No. 13 Queen Creek in the semifinals, a Bulldogs’ squad which has shown to be significantly better than its seeding indicates.
Divisions III, IV and V move to Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott for their respective tournaments. Seton Catholic won 12 of its last 13 power rankings matches since mid-September, and comes in as one of the hottest teams in Div. III.
Tempe Prep finished October 7-2 in Div. IV to earn the No. 9 seed. Valley Christian lost to No. 1 Phoenix Northwest Christian and Bourgade Catholic late in the regular season, but the Trojans played a strong schedule.
Whether in the Valley at higher-seeded schools, the semifinals and finals at Mesquite High School, or up north in the chill of Tim’s Toyota Center, the volleyballers are about to have their “days in the sun.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.