Seeing that it was the championship match, this figured to go five games.
It didn't look like that after the first two.
"Never in doubt," Gilbert coach Joe Hesse said tongue-in-cheek.
Leading hitter Macey Gardner summed it up: "We got lucky in some areas, we were working hard and it worked out."
Led by Gardner's 32 kills, Gilbert rallied from a 2-0 deficit for an improbable, 14-25, 24-26, 26-24, 25-19, 15-10 win Monday night against powerful-Horizon in the Division I state volleyball championship match at Grand Canyon University. It was Gilbert's first volleyball title since 2006.
The Tigers (34-10) made plenty of unforced errors, particularly at the serve, and after getting within a point of tying the match, gave up three straight points and looked defeated.
"It was just a matter of maintaining focus," Hesse said. "You could see it in their eyes in the beginning. I think they were overwhelmed by this arena and then we lose game two close but they figured it out."
"We were missing serves, not passing the ball, it just caught up to us and all of sudden we're down two games and we knew we had to pull our act together," she said. "Luckily, we did that in the fourth and fifth games."
After a back-and-forth third game in which neither team led by more than four points, the last two sets saw Gilbert show what had gotten them past four-time defending state champion Xavier in the semifinal.
The Tigers opened up a 20-11 lead in the fourth set with Tatum Lostumo (8 kills) leading the way. Horizon trying to turn it around by Gardner put the ball away on Gilbert's final three points.
"It's a team effort, I was just lucky that I was on fire tonight," Gardner said.
Gardner stayed hot, getting six kills in the final set, helping Gilbert get an 8-4 lead and two straight kills to put the Tigers up 14-10. A missed hit by Horizon ended the match.
"I think Gilbert picked up their game," Horizon coach Valorie McKenzie said. "I don't think we were playing that much worse. We started making a couple of mistakes. But it was a matter of Gilbert getting into their groove. Their outside hitters stepping up so the block errors starting occurring. They just made less errors and it was a dogfight. It was a great volleyball match."
The Huskies (33-5) were in control early, led by outside hitter Nikki Hess (12 kills) and sophomore Sierra Nobley (8 kills). The Huskies start four or five underclassmen.
Gilbert also had trouble with middle Tess Clark and made six service errors in those first two games.
Hesse's message after that?
"You tell them they've got to believe in the training and the focus," he said. "For us we were talking about it wasn't physical it was mental with us. Nobody can play with us physically, not even a team like that. They're bigger than us but physically we match up just fine."
Once Gardner (21 digs) and Penina Snuka (9 kills, 22 digs) starting warming up, the Tigers' fortunes turned.
"We didn't worry so much about their side," Hesse said. "We kept talking about our side and if we got our side going.
"We waited it out. They waited a little bit long but it was all right."