On an evening when top-ranked Gilbert honored its girls volleyball seniors, sophomore Sarah Clause stepped up to lead the Tigers to a 3-1 win (25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 25-11) over visiting Chandler in 5A Fiesta Region action on Thursday.
Clause had seven of her game-high 23 kills in the deciding game as Gilbert (33-7, 7-1) pulled away quickly after the Wolves had pulled to 2-1with a win in the third game.
“It’s the seniors completely. Anything I do has to do with the seniors because they always come through,” Clause said, noting that the pregame ceremonies inspired her. “It’s good to watch them grow as players and see where they are going to go after here.”
Fifth-ranked Chandler (5-3 region) played from behind almost the entire match, never leading after 3-2 and 1-0 in the first two games. The Wolves fought back to 23-22 in the first game and thought they’d tied the score on a Tiger miss, but the referee ruled it had been touched by one of the Wolves.
“We were always coming from behind and trying to catch up,” Chandler coach Janna Corbett said. “We have to have a lot more confidence on the court. We’re a lot better team when we’re in our system.”
Chandler can secure at least a tie for second in the region with wins over Hamilton and Highland next week. Gilbert has already played the top region teams and can secure first with one win in its final two games.
“Aside from our serving, we played well,” said Gilbert coach Joe Hesse. “We had a game plan to stop their two best players (Paije Pearson and Haylee Thompson). We had two blockers assigned to them every single time.”
Pearson ended up with 13 kills and 16 digs, Thompson had 11 kills and 10 digs. Kayli Broadbent had 11 kills for Gilbert, Brittany Guck had 24 digs and Stephanie Nucci had 47 assists.