Everything had gone according to plan for No. 1 seed Cactus Shadows as it took the court against secondseeded Phoenix Sunnyslope for the championship match of the third annual Cactus Shadows Volleyball Classic Saturday night.
That is until the Falcons let a late 1-point lead in Game 1 slip away along with their hopes of winning their own tournament, as they got their wings clipped by the Vikings 25-23, 25-17.
Cactus Shadows (18-3) looked poised early, unwilling to surrender to its 4A Wells Fargo Region II foes.
After giving up five straight points to the Vikings (19-1) and falling behind 12-9 in the first game, the Falcons answered with three straight to knot the score at 12-12.
Down 21-16, the largest margin of the game, senior Cortney Weedman brought the score even with four straight points on serve.
The Falcons jumped ahead 23-22 thanks to a kill by junior Sara Pages. A huge block by the Vikings drew the score to a tie at 23.
But the Falcons couldn’t pull off another rally, dropping the final two points and the game 25-23.
"I think we got caught on our heels," Falcons coach Karen Sitkiewicz said.
"I don’t think we played as aggressive as we did in other matches. But overall I think both teams played pretty well."
The Game 1 loss was the first of the day for the Falcons and it clearly had them rattled heading into Game 2.
Neither team could take charge as three of the first five points were scored on service errors. Again playing from behind, Pages, who recorded a team-high 11 kills and nine digs for the Falcons in the championship match, floated a shot over the net to tie the score at 3, and it would be the closest the Falcons would come to a lead all game.
The Vikings pulled away 10-6 with junior setter Caelen Hiller serving. Her three straight points were the most recorded by either team in the game.
Sunnyslope was led by junior Emma Ridley, who notched nine kills and five digs.
The Falcons didn’t draw closer then five points at any point in the contest.
"We knew Sunnyslope was going to be tough," Pages said. "But we just weren’t communicating well and playing together as a team."
The Falcons soared through the tournament before falling to the Vikings, sweeping matches against Coronado, Prescott and Arcadia.