Come state tournament time, Cinderella may pay a visit to the Deer Valley boys volleyball squad.
That's what Coach Kim Ulrich-Suss said she expects when her team reaches the 4A/5A State Tournament at the end of the month.
"I'm happy to go under the radar because I think we could be a Cinderella team when it comes to the state tournament," Ulrich-Suss said.
Before Deer Valley's 3-0 win (25-21, 25-12, 25-22) against Northwest Region rival Centennial Tuesday, the Skyhawks sat No. 12 in power ranking points. After the match, that radar the Deer Valley coach mentioned zeroed in as the Skyhawks moved to No. 6. Centennial (5-6, 1-2) remained in 19th spot.
"The rankings are a little silly" Ulrich-Suss said. "It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the end. But we know, once you make the state tournament it's one game at a time and anything can happen."
Deer Valley controlled much of the match, holding the lead through the first two games. Centennial fought back in the third, taking its first lead of the match early when Deer Valley junior Kevin Villela's kill attempt went out of bounds.
The Coyotes adjusted their game plan early, going with more tips to defeat the Deer Valley block. The plan opened Centennial's offensive attack in the third game allowing their outside hitters to come at the net more with the Skyhawk blockers waiting for the tip. Outside hitter Tevon Anderson Anderson tipped a point off a set from junior Spencer Ropte to regain the serve and open a 2-point lead at 5-3. The Coyotes would run that to a 3-point lead on a pair of unforced Deer Valley errors.
However, the Skyhawks worked a side out when junior outside hitter Mathew Walberer took a set from senior setter Pearce Swerdfeger for a kill. That would spark a 5-1 run capped by a kill from junior Ryan Kral.
"We have a lot of respect for Centennial's coach (Cari Bauer) and her team." Ulrich-Suss said. "They did a good job adjusting to our block by starting to tip the ball more, which forced us to play defense and adjust to their scheme."
The two sides traded points until junior libero Bobby Schwarkopf took the serve after Deer Valley senior Jeremy Buris blocked a kill out of bounds to tie the game at 14. Schwarkopf ignited a 4-0 run with an ace, and that was followed by a tip from Kral into a space vacated by senior Anthony Wieland who sent a diving save over the net.
Centennial would get within one, 19-18, when the Skyhawks couldn't control a block from junior Austin Livermore. However, Deer Valley middle blocker Nate Skousen made his pressence felt with the game winding down, scoring three of the team's final five points.
"( Kral) did a great job on the block tonight," said the Deer Valley coach. "He's our big middle blocker and has played club with all those (Centennial guys). Another player who stepped up his game on the block is my senior Nate Skousen. He's a wide receiver on the football team and this is his first year in volleyball, so we put him at middle and he's done real well on blocks."
The Skyhawks jumped out to early leads in the first two games - 6-1 in Game 1, 6-0 in Game 2 - which was something the Deer Valley skipper said they emphasized before the match.
"Our game plan was to get out quick in each game and serve them aggressively," she said. "We lost to (Centennial) earlier in the season and they served us aggressively, but we were without our libero in that game. We really missed (Schwarkopf) in that game. He such a good athlete, and does a great job for us on serve returns and passing."
Despite the 5-point defecit, Centennial fought back to within a point, 10-9, after a 5-1 run which included a pair of tips from Anderson, a Burris block that fell and a Wieland tip off a Livermore set. A 5-2 Skyhawk run late helped get Deer Valley breathing room at 21-15, but the Coyotes answered with another 4-0 to draw within 2 thanks to a Wieland block on a Walberer tip.
The run was squelched on a net violation and Deer Valley won went on a 4-2 run to finish off the game.
The Skyhawks's opened Game 2 with a 13-2 run and cruised while taking advantage of strong hitting that was set up off the block.
Ulrich-Suss said while losing to Boulder Creek to open region play was a big disappointment, but said her squad will be fine as long as it plays to its capabilities.
Playing up to their capabilities was something the Skyhawks did last weekend, when it went 5-2 at the North County Invitational in San Diego and won the silver at the event. Ulrich-Suss said the trip also helped the team's chemistry.
"We faced some really good teams down there," Ulrich-Suss said. "So, I think the guys were fired up from that and played with that confidence tonight. It was a real team-building experience that should help jump-start us for the final region stretch."
While making a deep run through state tournament is their main focus, the Deer Valley coach said her squad has already met one goal.
"Most of the team are juniors and sophomores, and last year we were mostly sophomores and finished 4-12, but we were in every game. This year, our goal was to flip that record."