Highland is the one elite boys volleyball team which doesn’t compete in the preseason Wolf Howl Invitational at Chandler, so while the other programs could size each other up early, the Hawks were a bit of a wild card.
After Saturday’s performance, there’s no doubt about their contender status.
Highland rallied from a game down to defeat Desert Vista, 23-25, 25-23, 15-9 in the finals to capture the prestigious Brophy Invitational title on Saturday at Brophy Prep.
Highland made the state semifinals last season, and with several talented pieces returning, was seen as a top team. The Hawks were 10-1 in power point matches this year but had yet to face top programs such as Brophy and Desert Vista. Highland didn’t drop a match in Saturday’s double-elimination format.
Ryan Morrison had 15 kills and five blocks while Jared Greene added eight kills and two aces. Setter Collin Ward finished with 36 assists.
Highland led the first game 18-15 and the score was tied at 22, but Desert Vista picked up three of the final four points of the set to go up 1-0. The Hawks blew a 16-13 lead in Game 2 and it was also tied at 22, but they finished that game strong to tie things up.
“When you make an error don’t think about it,” Ward said. “Keep moving forward and trust your teammates. When you do that it works out.”
The Hawks took control midway through Game 3 and cruised. Greene had a run of two kills and two aces within a five-point span to help the Hawks capture the tournament title.
“We have a lot of good, strong players, but his leadership on and off the court is key,” Highland coach Vee Hiapo said. “He doesn’t get a lot of notoriety.”