Ironwood Ridge put on a three-set show in downtown Tucson last Wednesday night, powering past an overmatched Tucson High School squad in straight sets.
The Nighthawks (3-1), who won the match’s three sets, 25-9, 25-20 and 25-13, dominated the Badgers at the net all night, picking up 41 kills, 12 aces and two blocks in the victory.
Senior Andrea Vigil led said attack, with a team-high 7 kills, while sophomore Morgan Stewart added 6 and two other Nighthawks had 5 kills apiece.
Coach Bill Lang called the team’s nightlong effort a sight to behold.
“We know Tucson High well, we play them a lot, so we’re excited that we got the win,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with the contributions everybody made.”
The Nighthawks’ most recent victory came on the heels of a grueling opening week of the season, falling to Scottsdale’s Horizon High School in straight sets, in their Sept. 3 opener.
The team rebounded triumphantly from there, sweeping Notre Dame Prep and Mountain View in their next two matches.
Lang said last Wednesday’s performance shows how far the team has come, painting a picture of how the Nighthawks have to play against Gilbert power Campo Verde, who they faced Tuesday, Sept. 17, after deadline.
“We’re hanging in there,” Lang said. “The work ethic that we’ve set playing in practice is starting to come through in some matches. That’s something that’s been a big point for us but next week is the big one.”
Senior outside hitter Hannah Ford, who finished Wednesday’s match with one kill and one block, said the team’s performance against the Badgers shows how well they can play when they’re clicking on the court.
“I think we did a good job of holding our ground and doing what we’ve trained for the past couple of weeks,” Ford said. “And I think this week was a good start because next week is going to be tough.”
Vigil believes the team’s hard work during the summer months has put them in proper position to make another state championship push this fall.
“We’re a very hardworking team,” she said. “We go into practice every day, we go 110 percent every single one of us, and I think it really shows on the court.”
Lang said the team’s upcoming matchups with Campo Verde, who made the 5A semifinals and Millennium, who won the 5A title a year ago, will teach the team how to play the right way, guiding them to success later in the season.
“For us, our philosophy is we want to be tested by the best,” he said. “We want to have a taste of what November’s going to look like, so we might as well play them now. If we can’t beat them, then we don’t deserve to play with them.”
Around the region
The six programs of northwest Tucson had an up-and-down week on the volleyball courts of the state. The Catalina Foothills Falcons (2-2) split their two matches, falling to Tanque Verde in four sets, before beating Rincon/University in five to close out the week.
The Canyon del Oro Dorados improved to 3-0 for the year, sweeping Cholla and Sahuarita’s Walden Grove during the week.
Marana (2-1) split its two matches, sweeping Flowing Wells before getting swept by Tucson power, Salpointe Catholic to close the week.
Elsewhere, Mountain View fell to 1-3 for the season, after getting swept by Ironwood ridge and sweeping Pueblo.
The Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions improved to 3-1 for the year by beating Florence and Flowing Wells by matching 3-1 scores.