Cross-town rivals Marana and Mountain View high schools met on the hardwood floor of the latter’s gymnasium Thursday night, a much-anticipated match that was met by a crescendo of noise from students and family members.
Those donning the blue and gold of Marana had much more to cheer about than their hosts, as the Tigers cruised to a straight set sweep of the Lions.
The three sets, which went in favor of the Tigers to the tune of 25-22, 25-11 and 25-20, earned Jenifer Ball’s squad their third win in four matches this season.
Ball praised her players for fighting through adversity multiple times in their match, picking up a hard-earned win on the road. During the match’s final set, the Tigers fell behind multiple times before mounting a late run to finish off their rivals.
“I'm really proud of the way that they kind of dealt with falling behind in that third set,” Ball said. “Getting a little bit nervous, getting a little bit out of system and allowing them to kind of fix it on the floor... I was really proud of that.”
Senior Ella Dotson said the Tigers had their fair share of nerves entering the annual rivalry match, but that the squad always enjoys playing the Lions.
"It means a lot that we get to play against a tough team like Mountain View every year," Dotson said. "It is definitely one of the games that our team looks forward to the most and the fact that they are our rivals gets us so excited and fired up to compete against them each year! My favorite thing about playing them is how packed the gym gets and how much energy everyone brings, whether they are on the court or on the bench."
Thursday night was frustrating for second-year Mountain View coach Jose Robles, who has coached the Lions to a 6-6 record this season.
Robles commended Ball and her team on the victory, but admitted that his squad let their fair share of opportunities go by the wayside.
“We started out really well and then we fizzled out in the end,” Robles said. “We need to work on being consistent throughout the whole match, and not just come out swinging the first set and then the second a team swings back at us, we back off. “
For Ball, Thursday’s victory highlights how special this year’s team is in all facets of the game, with a senior-laden roster that’s poised to make a deep run come the postseason.
“I think they take good care of each other,” she said. “They are good to each other, they really support one another, they really believe in each other, whether I play all fifteen girls, or I play seven. “
The Tigers have swept all three of their wins this season, over Cholla, Flowing Wells and the Lions. They return to the court with matches against Sahuarita Monday, Sept. 23 and Sabino the following day.
The Lions have lost two-straight matches, falling to Gilbert’s Higley High School in four sets on Tuesday, before losing to Ball’s squad Thursday. Robles’ team return to the court to face Cienega Tuesday, Sept. 24 and Rincon/University Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Around the Region:
Elsewhere in northwest Tucson, the Catalina Foothills Falcons fell to 7-4 for the season, falling to Cienega in five sets.
The Canyon del Oro Dorados improved to 5-1 for the year by sweeping Flowing Wells on Tuesday, playing Tucson High School and Tanque Verde next Monday and Tuesday. The Dorados return to face Catalina Foothills at home at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26.
The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks split their two matches of the week, beating Campo Verde in straight sets before getting swept by Millennium. The Nighthawks participated in the Dorado Fall Classic in Henderson, Nevada over the weekend and next face Rincon/University at home at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25.
The Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Lions also split their two matches last week, moving to 5-3 for the year. The Lions swept Amphitheater, before getting swept by Northwest Christian. The Lions face off against Scottsdale Preparatory Academy and Walden Grove next week and then face Safford at 6 p.m. at home Wednesday, Sept. 25.