The top-ranked Gilbert girls volleyball team continued to roll Tuesday, defeating visiting Chandler, 25-14, 25-21, to keep its region record unblemished this season.
Stephanie Nucci led the Tigers (14-4, 3-0) with 19 assists, spreading the ball around to help three of her hitters post five kills. The 6-foot-2 setter, the tallest player on Gilbert’s roster, also had two blocks, one of which earned a decisive point in the second game.
"This was a big step up for our team. We ran the middles much more, and we improved our passing a lot," Nucci said.
Middle blocker Kayli Broadbent had five kills in the win, while outside hitter Katelyn Barnes also added five kills. Barnes also served two vital aces, one of which ended the first game.
Despite their immediate loss in the first game, the Wolves (16-9, 2-1) came back to challenge Gilbert, mounting a slow comeback in the second game. Down as many as eight points, Chandler tied the game at 21-21 before the Tigers scored four straight points to defeat their 5A Fiesta Region rival.
"Every region win is a big win," Gilbert coach Joe Hesse said. "We set high standards around here, and everything we do is based on playing in November."
Opposite hitter Leilani Ili had her fifth kill for the Tigers in the second game, ending the game and the match and sending Chandler home with its first region loss.
"We were going against the number one team in the state, and it is easy to get a little intimidated," Chandler coach Darrin Ashment said.
Paije Pearson recorded eight kills and seven digs in the loss, leading the Wolves in both categories.
- MIKE HILTON