A crescendo of energy reached it fever pitch in the fifth and final set of Mountain View’s second round boys volleyball playoff match with visiting Salpointe Catholic Tuesday night.
The third-seeded Lions received a nightlong fight from the Lancers, with both sides trading figurative blows.
The hometown Lions were able to scratch out the opening set, 25-20, before dropping sets two and three by matching 25-21 scores. The fourth set marked a turnaround that few in attendance will forget, as Lindsey Spivey’s squad hammered the Lancers, pulling out a 25-18 set victory.
That fourth set win forced a decisive fifth set, which the Lancers dominated in the early stages, grabbing a 3-0 edge in the final stanza.
Spivey never wavered in her belief in the team, shunning a traditional timeout to allow her players to get their feet under them.
Her confidence paid off in full, as the Lions stormed back to take six of the next seven points, giving them a 6-4 edge.
The Lions proceeded to pummel the Lancers from there, eventually winning the final set, 15-8—setting off a scene of utter jubilation on the hardwood of the school’s gymnasium.
The win, which propelled the Lions to their first ever appearance in the state semifinals, was a sight to behold for all involved.
For senior stalwarts, like Elijah Elmer and Darean Schug, Tuesday’s win represents a seminal moment.
Both young men remember the team’s bitter first round loss to Kellis High School in last year’s playoff. They both used that straight-sets sweep as motivation this season and see Tuesday’s result as the next step in the program’s development.
“It’s unbelievable for our team,” Elmer said. “Obviously, I knew that we could do it. Our team is so strong, and I know that we all want to win. We have the passion that other teams don’t, and we show it on the court.”
Schug highlighted the boisterous crowd, which created so much noise at one point that the head official had to stop the match so players could hear his whistle, as a key to their success.
“It was hard for me to hear our other hitters, and who was ready and who wasn’t,” Schug said. “It was just crazy. We really kept the hype up and we just have to thank them because they really kept our heads up.”
Spivey touched on the match’s impact in her postgame comments, heaping praise on her players for their steadfast composure when the Lancers won two straight sets.
The Mountain View coach spoke of her thoughts going into Tuesday’s match and the intuition that her players would come out on top, regardless of the obstacles in their way.
“I think the whole match I was a mess, but this whole day proceeding I was relatively calm,” Spivey said. “I know that I did everything that I can as a coach to prepare them. I had to be okay with that and I had to know that they could do their jobs.”
Spivey said she knew her team was going to come out on top once they punched their way off the ropes in the fourth set. When asked to sum up how she’d describe her team’s surge in the fourth and fifth sets, Spivey touched on her players’ fighting spirit.
“They sure knew how to fight, they knew how to take the game seriously, and, honestly, be accountable, be accountable for every single point,” she said.
Elmer and Schug were momentarily interrupted postgame by Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” which came on with vigor over the gym’s speaker system after the match’s final point.
The Lions, for one night at least, could say they were just that—overcoming a narrative of playoff failure to reach newfound heights.
Elmer spoke on the team’s semifinal match, which pits them against 10th seed American Leadership Academy of Queen Creek at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday at Highland High School.
The tall senior believes the team’s best performance is ahead of them, with Tuesday’s fifth set serving as an appetizer for what’s to come.
“When we were in that fifth set and we came out strong, I just knew that we were going to win it because when our team gets going, we can’t stop,” Elmer said. “And honestly, I can’t even describe it, I’m so happy that we were able to make history out here at Mountain View, and we’re not done yet.”