Two of the best boys volleyball teams in Tucson battled it out inside the old gymnasium at Mountain View High School Tuesday night.
The combatants, in visiting Rincon/University High School and the hometown Lions, represented two of the top-three teams in the AIA’s 5A poll, with the Rangers taking the top-spot in the division entering Tuesday’s tilt.
The Rangers showed they were deserving of such acclaim against the Lions, sweeping their three sets, 25-19, 29-27 and 25-22.
The loss knocks the Mountain View to 26-7 for the year, with matches against Palo Verde and Catalina Magnet remaining.
The theme of the evening for coach Lindsey Spivey was the fight her team showed, pushing the Rangers in each of the team’s three sets.
“Each and every time we play this team, we know and truly believe still that we can compete and that we can win,” she said. “So, the boys hope to see them again in state. And that's kind of our motivation at this point. This is some of the best volleyball they've ever played.”
Spivey praised the way her team has fought this season, and how the six seniors on her 12-person roster played in their final regular season home game.
Senior night means more than a win or a loss for Spivey, but the end of an era—and a final chance for her most experienced players to shine.
For seniors like Tanner Harline and Darean Schug, Tuesday serves as a chance to bask in the limelight one final time, with friends and family in tow.
“It's our last season, we have to go out with a bang,” Harline said. “We’ve made it to the playoffs. Now, we've got to go farther than just the first round. We’ve got to prove to ourselves that we can. And this was the biggest fight that we've had until the playoffs, so we got to work hard and practice.”
For Schug, losing on senior night is a momentary low point, but one from which the team can recover in time for the state playoffs, which kick off next Saturday, May 4.
“We can put up a fight no matter who the opponent is, as long as we stick together and we piece things together,” Schug said. “After every point we always come together, we always find a solution to what just happened wrong. And we get that next point.”
Spivey hammered home the fact that there’s a lot of volleyball left to her team in their postgame huddle. The longtime coach knows that her team can play with anybody, regardless of how their match with the Rangers looks on paper.
The squad’s focus will shift to their final two regular season matches and to next week’s state tournament, Spivey said, learning from their mistakes on Tuesday night.
“The season's not over,” she said. “We still have two more games. We still have state. There's still a lot of volleyball to be played and a lot more memories to be made with these guys.”
Around the Region
The Lions swept their match with Palo Verde High School last Thursday, April 26—moving to 27-7 for the season.
The Lions closed out their regular season with a road match against Catalina Magnet after deadline Monday.
The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks (16-14, 6-4) split their two matches last week, sweeping Sahuaro before losing to Rincon/University in four sets.
The Canyon del Oro Dorados (18-10, 7-2) won both of their matches last week, sweeping Flowing Wells and beating Marana in four sets. The Dorados closed their regular season against Catalina Magnet after deadline Tuesday.
The Marana Tigers (7-16-1) lost all three of their matches last week, falling to Catalina Foothills and CDO in four sets, before getting swept by Buena Thursday, April 25. The Tigers closed their regular season with a road match against Pueblo after deadline Tuesday, April 30.
The Catalina Foothills Falcons (16-13, 8-2) split their two matches last week, beating Marana before falling to Cienega on the road in five sets last Thursday, April 25. The Falcons closed their regular season Monday, April 25 against Buena on the road.