After finishing as the Class 4A state runner-up last season, Green Valley’s girls volleyball team was hoping to take the next step this season.
Those hopes will have to wait another year.
Douglas had an answer for every challenge the Gators could muster in a 25-20, 25-9, 25-15 win in the state championship match Saturday at Bishop Manogue.
“I think Douglas is a very well-prepared team and they’re like a machine out there,” Green Valley coach Erin Hill said. “They were the better team and that’s a well-earned state championship, and we congratulate them all the way.”
The Gators mounted multiple charges, but Douglas thwarted them at every turn. The Tigers continued to feed senior hitter Renna White — who finished with 13 kills — on the left corner, and she came up with a kill almost every time the Gators seemed on the verge of swinging the momentum in their favor.
“I thought there were a couple of points even in the second game where we were going to turn it around,” Hill said. “The second game we came out on fire, but Douglas was the stronger team tonight.”
With Douglas leading 6-3 in the second set, White pounded consecutive kills to start a run by the Tigers, then she drilled another to give Douglas a 13-5 lead.
Trailing two sets to none, the Gators started the third set with renewed resolve, but White again led the response by Douglas. Her spike keyed an 11-3 run that allowed Douglas to move ahead 13-5 and Green Valley never got closer.
Meanwhile, the Gators had trouble getting their own attack going, in part because setter Jenna Swaffer was having to scramble for the ball to feed her front line. After amassing 57 digs in a semifinal against Bishop Manogue, the Gators totaled only 16 against Douglas.
“I think they turned it up a notch on their serving and our passing game broke down,” Hill said. “That relegated us to an outside attack and they were able to capitalize on us.”
Douglas coach Suzi Townsell said her team was focused on stopping outside hitter Emma Johnson, who had keyed the Gators’ win against Manogue with 19 kills.
Johnson was limited to eight kills in Saturday’s championship match, while Nikki Drost led the Gators with 11.
“Erin does a great job with her team and her team volleys and moves and does not give up,” Townsell said. “We saw them at the (Las Vegas Invitational) and our parents and everybody was impressed with them because they keep the ball in play.”
While Saturday’s loss stung the Gators, Hill said they don’t want to let it linger.
“Our goal was to win a state championship, and for the five seniors on the team there’s no tomorrow,” she said. “But the 11 other kids will rise again next year and we’ll start working on that on the bus ride home tomorrow, I guarantee that.
“We’ll just pick ourselves up by the bootstraps, congratulate the winners and move on.”