Scottsdale Chaparral won its third girls volleyball title in four years by sweeping Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 25-19, 25-19, 25-18 Saturday night at Chandler Perry High School.
“It’s awesome,” Chaparral coach Jayme Crowley said about winning another state title.
“We had to overcome adversity since we had no gym this year and a lot of late night practices.”
Third-seeded Chaparral came out firing on all cylinders in Game 1, scoring 12 of the first 17 points and pushing the lead to as eight points at 20-12. Cactus Shadows, the No. 4 seed, rallied and closed to within six but eventually dropped the first game.
In the second game, the two teams battled back and forth; Cactus Shadows held a 13-10 edge until Chaparral senior outside hitter Cat Highmark took control of the game. Highmark keyed a 12-2 run that propelled the Firebirds to a Game 2 victory. She recorded six kills, three blocks and a pair of assists to get Chaparral within one game of the crown.
“She wanted. She worked for it. She’s the hardest worker in our program and she’s left a lasting legacy,” Crowley said, “Everybody will remember Cat Highmark. She is a catalyst but it was a total team effort.”
The teams were tied at 13-13 in the third game when Chaparral ran away with the win and the state title. The Firebirds scored 12 of the final 18 points to open breathing room and win the third game comfortably.
“It was nice because it’s my last year and it’s the perfect way to end the season,” Highmark said, “It was special because I’ve known a lot of the girls for a long time and now we have to leave.”
Despite his team finishing second, Cactus Shadows coach Tom Gardner said he was very proud of his Falcons.
“We had a great year. The girls worked so hard all season. We were really happy to get here,” Gardner said.
“Although we were one game short of our ultimate goal, we finished ahead of a lot of great teams.”
Chaparral almost didn’t make it to the final as it was two points away from sweeping Phoenix Sunnyslope in the semifinals before the Vikings rallied and forced a fifth game, which the Firebirds won 16-14 to advance to the title game.
“I think that helped us with our resolve, determination and heart,” Crowley said.
“And I told the team after the two games that we won (in the finals), ‘Let’s go back and learn from our mistakes (against Sunnyslope) and let’s come forward and finish.’ ”
And that’s exactly what they did.