Volleyball: Sahuaro outlasts Sabino in 5 setsby Andy Morales on Sep. 18, 2012, under Sports
The score was tied 12-12 in the fifth and deciding set between Sabino and Sahuaro and Sabercat senior middle Chelsey Miller and Cougar junior hitter Jamie Holliday had put their respective teams on their backs with each recording four huge kills in the final set.
Miller’s fourth kill put her team up 13-12 and it looked like the balance had moved back to Sabino’s side until it became clear that Miller was headed to the bench rather than being placed in the back row.
With Miller out, senior outside Kassidy Crawford was set free and she responded with two kills to put Sahuaro back up 14-13. Sahuaro middle blocker Terania Ruiz entered the game as Miller was leaving and that also proved to be a timely substitution after Sabino tied it back up on a long serve by Sahuaro.
Crawford put down another kill and then Ruiz finished it with a block in the middle that she put back down uncontested to complete the 3-2 victory.
“Miller is a great player,” said Sahuaro coach Rachel Balsiger. “When she went out I asked my team to take advantage and play smart.”
The rotation put Sabino at a disadvantage but it was still up to Sahuaro to follow through on what Balsiger asked.
One player who came through time and time again was Holliday. Holliday is only 5-foot-4 but she plays a foot taller with a contact high above the net. Her game-high 21 kills combined with 19 from Crawford helped keep Sahuaro in the match despite a couple of blown leads in the first two sets.
“Everyone on my team gets excited when I get a kill,” explained Holliday. “I never think about my size I just go for it and I have support from my team.”
Sahuaro had taken a 15-10 lead in the first set only to have Sabino battle back to tie it a 18-18. Miller led her team to a 20-18 lead but Holliday put down a kill and then an ace later in the set to tie it at 22-22.
Sabino scored three straight for the 25-22 comeback win.
Down one set, Sahuaro needed to close out the next game on their home court or Sabino would have been on their way to beating them for the third time this season.
The Cougars built a commanding 18-13 lead but Sabino scored seven straight to take a 20-18 lead. It looked like disaster was about to strike again.
“Coach told us to stay together when we gave up the big leads,” said Holliday. “Stay together and don’t go apart.”
“Our team has had a lot of challenges,” added Balsiger.
“It’s not just Sabino, our team wants to beat all the teams we play. I asked them to play through this challenge.”
Sophomore Victoria Davis put down an ace and the second set was tied at 21-21. A Crawford kill put the team up 24-21 and they closed it out to win 25-21.
Sabino won the third set easily 25-13 after they jumped out to a 5-0 lead that was started out by a kill by Miller.
Sabino looked like they were going to do it again in the fourth set after going up 9-5 but Sahuaro tied it up 13-13 later in the set.
The Cougars built a 21-16 lead but Sabino stormed back to tie it at 22-22. Holliday scored and Sabino couldn’t get the ball over to give Sahuaro a 24-22 lead.
Sabino senior setter Courtney Spalt saw an opening and scored at the net but Crawford won it for Sahuaro, 25-23.
Sabino gave up an 11-8 lead in the fifth set thanks to two straight kills by Holliday. Miller kept Sahuaro at bay with another kill but Sabino sent the ball long on the next play and they could not return a Holliday serve and the final set was tied at 12-12.
Miller scored and, as mentioned before, Sahuaro took advantage of the rotation and went on to win, 22-25, 25-21, 13-25, 25-23, 16-14.
With the new AIA/Maxpreps seedings only being updated once a week, it is unclear how much Sahuaro has improved on their initial 15th seed that came out Tuesday afternoon.
Sabino was sitting at 24 and another win over Sahuaro would have certainly helped their position.
Only the top three teams from each section will get an automatic playoff berth and those teams would be Salpointe, Ironwood Ridge and Catalina Foothills if the season ended today. Sahuaro would be in line for an at-large bid if one was available.
It’s unclear what the new MaxPreps formula is so the best way to combat that issue is to win…easier said than done.
Kenza Cobrough had 15 kills to lead Sabino. Carrisa Henning added 14, Miller had 12 and Jensen Sohns had 10. Spalt recorded a game-high 42 assists.
Crawford added 13 digs to her 19 kills and Holliday came up with 10.
Katie Riddle had 37 assists and Sarah Sterns had 27 digs.