Sunnyslope HS wins thinned-out Goldwater VB Festival

<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons above -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2013/10/sunnyslope-hs-wins-thinned-goldwater-vb-festival/' addthis:title='Sunnyslope HS wins thinned-out Goldwater VB Festival'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>It looks like the rotation came back around to Sunnyslope High School to win the Goldwater Volleyball Festival over the weekend, as the Vikings pulled out a squeaker against Chaparral […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
                <div>
                    <a class="addthis_button" href="//addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=300" addthis:url='http://phxfan.com/2013/10/sunnyslope-hs-wins-thinned-goldwater-vb-festival/' addthis:title='Sunnyslope HS wins thinned-out Goldwater VB Festival'>
                        <img src="//cache.addthis.com/cachefly/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16" alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
                    </a>
                </div>

It looks like the rotation came back around to Sunnyslope High School to win the Goldwater Volleyball Festival over the weekend, as the Vikings pulled out a squeaker against Chaparral High to win the championship match of the Gold Division for its second title in four years.

Sunnyslope also won the event, one of the top in-season tourneys in the state, back in 2010 when it beat Xavier Prep for the title.  The next year Xavier was crowned champion and last year it was Horizon High.

For the most part, these major tournament titles are passed around among a handful of big-school programs, just as the state championships continue to be dominated each year by the same cluster of top programs.

But this year’s Goldwater was somewhat disappointing because many of those top teams weren’t in the 32-team field.  There is no question Sunnyslope is arguably the best team in Division II this year, and was worthy of the Goldwater title, but there should have been more of a challenge to the crown.

That’s a big part of the draw to this tournament.  The format enables schools to play opponents from other divisions, head-to-head, which is an opportunity not available during the regular-season schedule.  And, because it does draw many of the state’s best teams, it gives coaches a good idea of whether their team is ready for state-tournament play.

But nationally-ranked Horizon, the top dog in Division I, wasn’t there.  Nor was Xavier, one of the few teams able to challenge the Huskies this year; Xavier took two games from Horizon in a five-game match just a couple of weeks ago.

Horizon, which is loaded with college D-I prospects, beat Xavier in last year’s Division I state title match-up and was ranked third in the first AIA power rankings released awhile ago, while Xavier was the fifth-ranked team.

Hamilton High was also among the missing at the Goldwater.  Those Huskies won the Westwood Tournament of Champions two weeks ago, beating Sunnyslope in the semi-finals.  And Gilbert High School, which won the House of Payne Tournament in early September, wasn’t in the field.  Nor was Corona del Sol High School,which was the House of Payne runner-up.

Chaparral, which has a solid program this year and will be a contender in the playoffs, put Sunnyslope in the hole to start the Goldwater championship match with a 25-17 win, lost the second 25-16, and then came from behind in the deciding game before the Vikings pulled out a slim 15-13 victory.

But the idea behind the Goldwater is to put the best teams on the floor to provide the kind of competition that will prepare teams for the kind of challenge that awaits in the playoffs.  The event is often a preview to what fans will see in the state finals.

However, when the best teams don’t show up, that doesn’t happen.