The final tournaments of the girls’ high school volleyball season played out over the weekend as teams from across the state got one last chance to tune up before the state playoffs begin in a couple of weeks. Perry High School used the opportunity to help validate its position atop the 6A rankings, and Flagstaff High used its event to show that it might be a better team than its 4A ranking would indicate.
Flagstaff made the trek down the hill from the high country to play in the Lion’s Den Volleyball Invitational at Mountain View High School in Marana. The Eagles, ranked No. 4 in the 4A conference, rolled through the tourney undefeated to get a shot at No. 2 Salpointe Catholic.
After dropping the first set to Salpointe, 23-25, Flag used a sudden surge midway through the second set to pull away for the 25-17 victory.
And then the Eagles dug deep in the deciding set, coming back from a 12-9 deficit to go on and post the 16-14 win for the tourney title.
That Tucson-area tournament drew a field of 16 teams that featured one top-10 team from 5A and four top-10 squads from 4A, including Flag and Salpointe. But it was the tournament up north at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale that drew the big-school contenders.
Chaparral’s Birdcage Classic featured a field of teams just half the size of the Lion’s Den, but the eight teams that competed included some of the better teams in a variety of conferences, including three teams ranked No. 1 and four others that are ranked in the top 10 of their respective conferences.
As might be expected, Perry High School, the top-ranked team in the state’s top conference, finished the two-day event on top of the pile.
The Pumas, 13-1 and ranked No. 1 in 6A (27-3-1 overall), went through the tourney undefeated – but did have some trouble with Greenway High School, the No. 1 team in 4A. Greenway played the big dog to a 1-1 tie, leaving Perry with seven wins out of the eight games they played.
Cactus Shadows High School also played like it had something to prove. The No. 6-ranked team in 5A won six games to work its way through the losers’ bracket and get a shot at Perry in the championship match on Saturday.
But once the Falcons got there, Perry’s depth and talent made the trip to the top worth little. Perry went right to work behind the net play of Grace Doyle and Tatum Stall. Stall, the junior outside hitter, led the Pumas’ attack with nine kills, and senior middle Doyle added four kills and six blocks.
The high-flying Pumas are going to have two more chances to prove they deserve the top seed going into the state tournament. The next three days will tell the story.
Perry hosts No. 2 Xavier tonight and travels to No. 3 Hamilton on Thursday before closing out the schedule against No. 21 Chandler High next week.