With apologies to Xavier Prep, tomorrow could provide one final preview of what the 6A volleyball high school state championship match could look like.
It’s the final match on the 2017 regular schedule and pits No. 2 Corona del Sol High School against No. 3 Mountain Pointe High School. Corona has yet to be beaten in 6A play and Mountain Pointe comes into the contest with just one conference loss – to Corona, back in mid-September.
Granted, Xavier (34-3 overall, 16-0 conference) is still No. 1 in the rankings and showed why it should be favored to win this year’s state crown by taking third place in the Platinum bracket, the top competition of the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in early October.
The Gators were the top local finisher among the three dozen or so schools from around Arizona in the field of 74 entrants this year. Corona also made it out of pool play and earned the right to play in the Platinum bracket — only to lose to Xavier in three sets. The Gators lost in the semifinals to California power, Mater Dei High School, which went on to win the tournament.
Xavier has actually beaten Corona twice this season, the other time during the Gilbert Invitational in the first week of October. The Gators have also played Mountain Pointe, losing to the Pride in one of their other Gilbert Invitational matches.
And just last week, No. 5 Perry High (32-6, 11-4) played Xavier toe-to-toe, taking the match to five sets before the Gators were able to pull out the win. And Mountain Pointe has been beaten by No. 4 Millennium High (29-9, 13-2) when Millennium ended a 10-game winning streak that the Pride used to start the schedule. Millennium was the third local team in the Nike Platinum bracket, losing to Corona in the match for third place.
That just goes to show the parity that exists among the top five ranked teams in the state’s top conference.
So tomorrow’s game between Corona (36-2, 15-0) and Mountain Pointe (32-6, 14-1) will have all the swagger of a title match. Both teams come loaded with talent that will make the meet-up in the Mountain Pointe gym all the more interesting.
Corona’s senior outside hitter Brooke Nuneviller is ranked fourth in the state in both kills (485) and hitting (.421 percent) and senior setter Abby Meyer is second in assists (1,020). The No. 1 player in the assists category is Mountain Pointe’s Gabby Leo. In addition, Mountain Pointe has the No. 2-ranked player in digs, senior libero Anna Morse (590), and the eighth-best in hitting, freshman outside hitter Jahara Campbell (.358).
Regardless of tomorrow’s results, once the playoffs get underway, Corona will be the team to beat since the Aztecs are the reigning 6A state champion. Everything else, including season records, means little at that point.
However, a win tomorrow over No. 3 Mountain Pointe would be a nice way to build some momentum heading into the state tournament.