Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Horizon VB survives brutal bracket to win Westwood TOCSep 8, 2012
Horizon's girls volleyball team is one of the if not the favorite(s) to win the Division I state championship this season.
Horizon got to prove its mettle this weekend and on Saturday capped off a perfect effort by knocking off Desert Vista, 25-15, 25-19 in the title match of the annual Tournament of Champions at Westwood High.
Horizon, which won four regular-season matches prior to the TOC, added nine wins in nine matches in the tournament. The Huskies didn't lose a set (18-0) in advancing their 2012 record to 13-0.
It wasn't easy, certainly not once it began play in Saturday afternoon's championship bracket play. Horizon got a first-round bye by finishing first in its pool, then had to face rival Xavier in the quarterfinals (Xavier advanced by beating last year's D-I champs Gilbert). Horizon took care of Xavier, the defending tournament champion, and then matched up with Hamilton, a final four team at state in 2011, in the semis. Two hard-fought sets in a power match with Hamilton went Horizon's way, 25-23, 25-13.
In the title match, Desert Vista brought a different game to the floor. It took Horizon time to settle in after the hard-hitting of the Hamilton match.
"The bottom half of the draw was very tough," Horizon coach Valorie McKenzie said. "We played solid volleyball, and our blocking was what it needed to be. It's been a little inconsisten so far.
"Desert Vista brought a slower game. They're a scrappy team and it took awhile for us to get in a rhythm."
Horizon was led by Sierra Nobley and Nikki Hess with seven kills each against Desert Vista. Tess Clark, Natalie Tandy and Christine Johnson added three each. Clark chipped in two solo blocks and Nobley and Hess six digs apiece. Horizon wasn't as sharp in the title match as it was in the semis, but still good enough to adjust and win.
"They're a very good team," Desert Vista coach Molly West said. "I was happy with the way our girls played. We made it to the finals of a tough tournament, and we're improving as we go. We started the year with three starters out and have two of them back. They're not a full strength yet. But we're getting to know each other, and playing better together."
Desert Vista won 8 of its 10 matches in the tournament. It's only losses were to Hamilton and Horizon. Desert Vista advanced to the finals by beating Ironwood in the semis. Ironwood did not lose a match in pool play and beat Corona del Sol in the quarterfinals.