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Jose GarciaMultimedia Journalist/Historian firstname.lastname@example.org
No. 12 seed Deer Valley powers past No. 5 Agua Fria VBOct 30, 2012
Glendale Deer Valley certainly doesn’t look or play like a No. 12 seed.
Just ask the No. 5 seed in the Division II state volleyball tournament, Avondale Agua Fria. With three key players taller than 6 feet 1 and a senior dominated roster, Deer Valley showcased its might and smarts during its three-game road victory, 25-9, 25-22, 25-16, over Agua Fria.
Deer Valley just missed earning a seed in last year’s postseason, but this year’s team isn’t planning to end its season in disappointment.
“We just want to finish strong and finish out the year with good memories,” Deer Valley senior middle blocker Amanda Conlin said.
Conlin’s sister, Emily, a freshman, also is along for the volleyball ride.
Deer Valley lost one of its starting setters, Jamie Moser, to an injury during the Goldwater tournament, but Emily stepped in and is playing like a veteran. It helps that she knows where Conlin, one of Deer Valley’s hard hitters, wants the ball.
On Tuesday, Deer Valley established itself as the favorite early against a jittery Agua Fria team. But a more confident Agua Fria team sped things up offensively in Game 2, resulting in better kill opportunities, especially for outside hitter Alison Sullivan.
Agua Fria’s defense also came up with big points in the second game, particularly the blocking combination of Cheyenne Footracer and Hannah Rowan. Agua Fria led 17-15 in Game 3, but Deer Valley rallied to jump ahead 19-17 after an Agua Fria mishit, prompting Agua Fria to take a timeout.
Libero Katerina Diaz, Agua Fria’s leader, then came up with the defensive gem of the match. Diaz dug a Deer Valley block that eventually led to an Agua Fria point.
But Deer Valley went to its power game to finish off Agua Fria in the second game.
“I’m totally excited and proud for my girls,” Deer Valley coach Jackie Wallace said. “They didn’t let up when they were down. We fought back. That’s what I love about my team.”
Besides its tall middles (Conlin, Jemima Idemudia, Raiyen Fielding), Deer Valley also possesses a strong outside hitter in Brittanny Brunning, who smacked a couple of cross-court shots in Game 3. Agua Fria continued to battle in the final game, but Deer Valley pulled away in the end and closed it out with the help of defensive specialist Jalen Dunn’s strong serves.
Agua Fria ended its season with a stellar 37-6-1 record, and Deer Valley (27-12) advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals, where it will face No. 4 seed Tucson Ironwood Ridge.
“I just love this team,” said Diaz of Agua Fria. “I’ve never played on a team this close. It’s a heart breaking loss. It’s going to be tough knowing that this was the last time playing for us seniors. But I’m just so proud of them. We played our hearts out today.”