RENO — The ball deflected off a teammate’s hands and looked to be headed out of bounds, but Green Valley’s Taylor Seidler wasn’t about to give up on it.
Seidler raced nearly to the bleachers to make the save, which led to a kill by Caitlin Brickley, giving the Gators a key point that helped them rally from a two sets to one deficit to beat host Bishop Manogue 25-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-21, 15-8 on Friday and advance to the Class 4A state championship match.
It will be the second consecutive state championship appearance for the Gators (28-9), who lost to Silverado in four sets in last year’s title match.
They got there with tenacious defense, turning around a match that Bishop Manogue had taken control of at the net.
“That’s how we’ve been taught to play, never to give up on any ball and never to let any ball drop, because without the ball dropping there’s no point,” Seidler said.
Bishop Manogue’s Kyra Miller, who finished with eight kills and eight blocks, had four blocks and three kills in the third set as the Miners began to exert control of the net. But the once they righted themselves, the Gators trailed just once in the fourth game, at 7-6, and once in the fifth game, at 1-0.
“The turnaround was the enthusiasm this team has and the incredible desire to get every ball on every point,” Green Valley coach Erin Hill said.
Brickley’s kill after Seidler’s save ended a Bishop Manogue run and gave the Gators a 24-20 lead in the fourth set, and once they got the momentum turned their way, they didn’t give it back.
“They were blocking well early, and we got tentative,” Hill said. “We talked about that we’ve got to swing to win, and then we started to run some different plays to get them one-on-one instead of hitting into a two-man block.”
Emma Johnson had 19 kills for the Gators, Brickley had 16 and freshman Nikki Drost 15 as the Green Valley began to play with more confidence in their attack in the last two games.
“We preach defense, and when the defense is done, the offense will come,” Hill said.
Green Valley will face Douglas in Saturday’s final at 4 p.m.
Douglas beat Bishop Gorman 27-25, 25-23, 29-27 to earn a spot in the final.
“We didn’t have our 'A’ game today,” Gorman coach Ed Van Meetren said. “They ran a fast offense, and we weren’t able to control it. Our block was just continually late all night, and I have no idea why.”
Van Meetren said the Gaels made 20 hitting errors, about twice about as many as they average.
“We weren’t able to run the middle at all, and 20 hitting errors is way out of the norm for us,” he said.
Liz Manthei led Gorman (31-9) with 13 kills, while Kylie Shaw had eight and Gianna Ruggeroli five.