The Mountain View Lions stared down a two-sets-to-none deficit against crosstown rival Marana on Thursday night, in front of a raucous crowd of Tiger faithful.
The team, coached by Jose Robles, punched its way off the ropes after losing the first two sets, 25-18 and 25-17, winning the third set, 25-17.
Their momentum continued in the match’s fourth set, fighting off a strong Tiger rally to tie things up, 25-22, to force a deciding best-of-15 fifth set, which the Lions won, 15-12.
The Lions clawed their way to victory from there, countering each Tiger attack with deft precision, with a timely block by 6-foot-4-inch senior middle blocker Grace Hala’ufia putting Marana away for good.
In his first year as the Lions’ coach, Robles praised his team’s ability to come back from a daunting 2-0 deficit to earn their second consecutive victory.
“[Tonight’s effort] showed the fight that these girls have,” Robles said. “This team loves to play, they love to compete. We’re a very good ball control team and that’s what we rely on. We’re going to be that team that puts the ball in your court and forces you to try to make a good play on us.”
Robles’ team did just that on Sept. 13, coming up with huge plays time and time again to improve the team’s yearlong record to 7-5.
The Tucson native believes that Thursday’s victory can be the morale-booster that propels the team forward, in a 5A Sonoran region that’s full of parity.
“It's going to boost their confidence a lot,” Robles said. “It's going to give the confidence that we are a good team. That we are a team that can compete with other great teams and we can make a good push to qualify for the state tournament.”
Thursday’s loss knocked the Tigers to 3-2 for the season, after sweeping Sierra Vista’s Buena High School on Tuesday.
Robles delivered a strong message to the team’s future opponents about their resolve, after back-to-back comeback wins over the Tigers and Higley.
“Don’t count us out of games, for sure,” Robles said. “When you come to our gym or we come to yours, we’re going to give you a fight.”
Around the region
The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks went 0-2 against Campo Verde and Millennium High Schools, falling 3-0 in each match.
The Canyon del Oro Dorados improved their season-long record to 6-0, beating Flowing Wells and the Catalina Foothills Falcons, 3-0 and 3-1, respectively.
The Falcons went 0-2 during the week, falling to Vail’s Cienega High School, 3-0, before losing to CDO, 3-1.
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy went 1-1, sweeping Amphitheater, before falling to Northwest Christian in five sets to close out the week.