Mountain View High School’s season opening volleyball match did not go as expected last Tuesday, with the Lions falling to Salpointe Catholic at home in straight sets. The Lions, under first-year coach Jose Robles, fell to the Lancers, 25-11, 25-14, 25-12, struggling to crack their opponent’s aggressive attack.
Robles commended the Lancers for their nightlong approach, saying his squad will learn plenty from the opportunity.
“We got to play a really great program,” he said. “We got to start out with them in the season. Some people see it as unfortunate. I see it as a great building block for us. I see what we need to work on, especially against better teams.”
The Lions’ attack was spearheaded by Jaelin Reeb with a team-high 5 assists, while Holly Ryberg dug out 7 balls, Jessica Gonzalez slammed home 7 kills and Grace Hala’ufia earned 3 blocks.
Robles said the team’s biggest fault on Tuesday was their inability to serve effectively, while also struggling to return serve for much of the evening. He credited much of that to the Lancers’ ability to do both, and said his team will have to hit the ground running before long.
“Our serve-receive unfortunately wasn’t the best today and that’s something we definitely need to work on going in to playing against tougher teams,” Robles said. “Salpointe’s a very good serving team. I give them props to the coach for how well she trained them in serving. We just need to be a lot better at moving our feet to the ball and getting around it and being able to play a tough deep serve.”
The Lions’ fortunes didn’t fare much better against Casteel of Queen Creek on Thursday, falling in straight sets—25-20, 25-12 and 25-20.
The Ironwood Ridge Nighthawks’ didn’t fare much better last week, falling to Scottsdale Horizon and Notre Dame Prep in straight sets.
Bill Lang, who’s in his 18th season coaching IRHS, said this year’s squad was challenged by two tough teams, believing the tough knocks will harden the squad in the long run.
“Winning is a great mascara, or a cosmetic,” Lang said. “It hides a lot of stuff, and when you can play a good team, that kind of exposes you. We are getting exposed in all kinds of areas.”
Lang compared the team’s first two matches to a first date, saying his team was a bit too awkward in its fundamentals against two perennial Phoenix area powers. He believes that the tough losses will help them prepare for a playoff run, a year after getting eliminated in the second round of the Division 5A state playoffs. “I think we in the two matches we played, the six sets that we’ve played so far, we have a lot of film—we’re happy about that,” Lang said. “I think that’s a positive take away. And that’s what the girls are talking about now, is that, hey, that’s where we want to be. Like the 5A is loaded this year.”
Elsewhere, the Marana Tigers volleyball team found its groove in the team’s season opener against regional rival Cholla, sweeping the Chargers, 25-10, 25-10, 25-21. The Tigers played Flowing Wells after deadline, and return to face Salpointe Catholic on the road at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
The Canyon del Oro Dorados also fared well in its season opening match against Tucson High School on Aug. 28, sweeping the Badgers, 25-21, 25-21, 25-11. The Dorados faced Cholla after deadline, and return against Nogales at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6.
The Catalina Foothills Falcons won each of their first two matches against Sabino and Palo Verde, beating the former in four sets, while sweeping the Titans. The Falcons played Tanque Verde after deadline on Tuesday, and face Rincon/University at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Pusch Ridge got off to a solid start against Catalina Magnet High School on Aug. 29, sweeping the Trojans in their season opening match. The Lions played Florence after deadline on Tuesday, and return to face Flowing Wells and Desert Christian this week, playing the Caballeros on Thursday at 6 p.m. and the Eagles at the same time on Friday, Sept. 7.