West Valley Preps
It was billed as a showdown, but quickly turned into a showcase.
Greenway and Deer Valley battled to a 14-14 tie midway through the first set Tuesday. From there, the home team hit the accelerator.
The Demons took control with defense, a dash of forceful attacking, and steady play while the Skyhawks made errors and were slow to position defensively. Greenway (9-0, 4-0 regular season) cruised to a 25-17, 25-11, 25-18 victory.
“I told my blockers it’s not about blocking every ball. I want them to take away something on the court.” Greenway coach Sarah Peterson said. “We focus on defense. We’ve always been a defensive team. I tell them, ‘we can play defense around you. We just need a good solid wall.'”
Senior Mykenna Nelson led the Demons with four kills and an ace in the first set, while junior Megan Mattingly added three late kills during the home team’s late run.
Mistake-prone Deer Valley (7-6, 3-1 regular season) fell apart in the second set. Greenway picked up eight of the last nine points to take a 2-0 lead.
“This wasn’t the team that has come to our other matches,” Deer Valley coach Jackie Wallace said. “They learned that you can’t play timid. You have to come out with your ‘A’ game and not have so many errors.”
Deer Valley is new to 4A and learned why the Demons are considered the primary challenger to two-time defending state champion Tucson Salpointe Catholic.
Greenway started 2017 well but fell off late. That led to increased determination from returning players – seven Demons are back from the 2017 rotation.
Plus, Peterson’s team is enjoying a major addition in freshman outside hitter Tatum Parrott. The newcomer added six kills and played more as the match went on.
“She’s obviously putting the ball down. She adds a lot. We’ve always played good defense but we haven’t always had that attack. With her playing outside, we get to move Megan Mattingly to right side, which is more of her natural role.”
Junior middle blocker Kailin Richards will add to the Demons arsenal, once the Northwest Christian transfer is eligible at midseason.
The Skyhawks hope to get their reinforcements when West Valley Region play starts in nine days.
Sophomore Maleah Reynolds and freshman Liz Rupp had earned starting spots in their first year on the Deer Valley varsity. Both are out with injuries.
“We’re down two starters right now. So this is not the team you’re going to see in the end,” Wallace said.