Centennial ends season for Sunrise again - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

Centennial ends season for Sunrise again

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Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2007 10:41 pm | Updated: 8:05 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

It was the opening round of the state tournament rather than the quarterfinals. The script however remains very much the same when the Centennial Coyotes and Sunrise Mountain meet in the volleyball postseason. For the third consecutive season the battle of Peoria went to the Coyotes, who advanced to Thursday's 5A Div-II state quarterfinals. After dropping the opening game 21-25 the No. 6 Coyotes (13-5) rallied to win three straight games 25-22, 25-14, 25-18 to once again send the Mustangs (9-9), the No. 11 seed, home for the winter. "We weren't going to let them beat us in our house," said junior outside hitter Mackenzie Willneff who finished with nine kills. "The first game threw us off, but we stayed with it." After Centennial beat Sunrise both times during the regular season the Mustangs beat Centennial in a best 2-of-3 Saturday in the Desert West Region Tournament semifinals. Prior to the event Centennial coach Carly Bourland had acknowledged she'd rather not play in a region tournament that had little to no meaning. While the match had no bearing on state tournament seeding it apparently gave the Mustangs a spark of confidence and Deb Moore's team played with that confidence early on. Sunrise Mountain Katie Rutherfold, who spent most of the season primarily as one of the team's setters, took a more offensive posture Tuesday night. Her hitting was a spark in the match's opening game with six spikes. Centennial also struggled with its serve receive something Sunrise exploited with a number of deep hard serves that the Coyotes back-row defenders struggled to handle. "It was like we were on step three before we had accomplished step one," Bourland said. "We were trying to spike the ball before we ever made a pass. At the same time Sunrise was playing as well as I've seen them play. They had us on our heels. We really gave them a lot of confidence Saturday." The Mustangs continued to battle in game two pulling within one at 21-22 when a Centennial kill attempt sailed long. Just four points short of falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-five match Bourland called timeout. "You never want to have to rely on a fifth game," the Coyotes coach said. "I think we felt a sense of urgency especially when it got late and they were still right there in game two." With Sunrise serving and a chance to tie the score the Coyotes handled the serve giving a pass to senior Kristen Matheson. The Coyotes setter went to sophomore Brooke Pottle with the game's outcome hanging in the balance. Pottle responded by delivering a thunderous kill to take a 23-21 lead. "We are obviously going to go to our left sides a lot (Willneff and senior Leah Bradley), but we've tried to get more people involved," he said. On the next play Sunrise appeared destined to pull back within one when a Mustang kill attempt hit the net cord and rolled over the net heading towards the floor. A diving Pottle made an off-balanced diving swing at the ball, connecting. The result was the ball just barely crawling back over the net and falling untouched to give the Coyotes a game point. Sunrise fought off the first game point, but Pottle had the closer to the game as well riffling a kill to the back corner of the Mustangs defense to even the match at one game a piece. The sophomore, who earned her first state tournament experience, said the intensity level was something brand new. "That game gave us so much momentum," she said. "I've had some games where I've done better, but not in a match like this against our rivals in state. I played in some competitive JV games as a freshman last year, but you're not playing for anything. This year on the varsity I know all these teams are playing for a championship." While the loss didn't break the Mustangs backs it seemed to elevate the Coyotes who breezed to a game three win, capping the win with a block on game point by junior Jessica Youngberg. The match's final game was tight as Centennial led 17-15 before running off seven of the next eight points to reach match point on an ace by Youngberg. After Sunrise staved off elimination twice Youngberg, who had three kills in the match's final game, advanced her team to Thursday's quarterfinals where they'll face No. 3 Deer Valley, with a kill that touched down in the middle of the Mustangs defense. "We beat them in the Goldwater Tournament earlier this year, but they've got a real good scrappy defense," Bourland said. "We'll have to keep the pressure on them, by taking care of our side of the net." With a win Thursday the Coyotes would make their third straight state semifinal appearance. Deer Valley advanced to Thursday's quarterfinal with a three-game sweep of No. 14 Westview. In other action involving Northwest Valley teams Tuesday the No. 4 Ironwood Eagles swept No. 13 Yuma in the top half of the 5A Div-II bracket. In the 4A Div-I ranks the Cactus Cobras (18-0) bid to defend their 2006 state title got off to an impressive start as the top seeded Cobras swept No. 16 Lake Havasu(8-9) 25-14, 25-8, 25-14. In the 5A Div-I state tournament, which also opened Tuesday, the No. 5 Gilbert Tigers (13-5) brought an end to the season for the Mountain Ridge Mountain Lions (8-10), defeating coach Jon Devenney's squad 25-16, 25-14, 25-15.

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