The Green Valley girls volleyball team entered the Durango Fall Classic on a two-match losing streak and in dire need of a pick-me-up.
By the time the tournament ended on Saturday, the Gators were posing for pictures and armed with a newfound sense of confidence.
Nikki Drost finished with 14 kills, and Green Valley defeated Clovis (Calif.) 25-19, 25-20 at Palo Verde to win the Contender Bracket of the 64-team tournament.
The Gators suffered a 3-2 loss to Centennial on Sept. 12 and were swept 3-0 at Palo Verde on Tuesday. But after finishing third in their pool on Friday and losing to Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) in the qualifying round Saturday morning, the Gators (13-6) won their final three matches, including a 25-19, 25-23 victory over Coronado to open bracket play.
“This is a big turning point,” Drost said. “We have the mindset we’re going to win every game, and once we lost we had to kick into gear and had to actually play and earn it.”
Shanna Olsen added nine kills, and Bridgette Dwyer chipped in with five kills for Green Valley, which was without coach Erin Hill for its final two matches of the tournament Saturday due to a family emergency.
“I think we made a lot of improvement this tournament as a team,” Green Valley assistant coach Caitlyn Tranquillo said. “The girls really stayed focused, which allowed them to push through the last few points. They kept their focus and were aggressive.”
The Gators were in control against Clovis from the start and limited talented junior outside hitter Maddie Ogas to eight kills and two blocks. Green Valley opened up a 13-9 lead in the first set, and an ace by Drost made it 19-14 before the Gators closed out the set by winning five of the final seven points.
In the second set, an ace by Ogas gave the Cougars a 17-14 advantage before Green Valley rallied. Drost’s kill evened the score at 20-20, and the Gators scored the next five points to finish off the match.
Drost recorded kills on three of the final five points, including on match point when she powered the winner through Clovis’ double block.
Green Valley defeated Clovis West (Calif.) 26-24, 15-25, 25-23 in the bracket semifinals.
“We had a couple of lulls in the beginning,” Drost said, “and we finally found a way to overcome those.”
Torrey Pines (Calif.) knocked off Kamehameha (Hawaii) 26-24, 23-25, 26-24 to win the tournament’s championship bracket for the second consecutive year.
Bingham (Utah) d. Faith Lutheran, 25-13, 25-9
Bingham (Utah) d. Centennial, 25-22, 25-19
Bonanza d. Seaquam (Canada), 25-17, 25-12
Bonanza d. Rim of the World (Calif.), 20-25, 25-17, 25-21
Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) d. Shadow Ridge, 25-15, 25-19
Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) d. Palo Verde, 26-24, 25-20
Centennial d. South Delta (Canada), 25-9, 25-18
Centennial d. Foothill, 14-25, 25-17, 25-21
Centennial d. Desert Hills (Utah), 18-25, 25-23, 25-22
Coronado d. McQueen, 25-17, 25-17
Edison (Calif.) d. Bonanza, 25-15, 25-16
Faith Lutheran d. Seaquam (Canada), 25-19, 25-19
Faith Lutheran d. Riverside (Canada), 25-14, 20-25, 25-22
Flagstaff (Ariz.) d. Coronado, 18-25, 25-23, 25-15
Foothill d. Durango, 27-25, 25-14
Green Valley d. Coronado, 25-19, 25-23
Green Valley d. Clovis West (Calif.), 26-24, 15-25, 25-23
Green Valley d. Clovis (Calif.), 25-19, 25-20
Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) d. Green Valley, 28-26, 25-22
Hoover (Ala.) d. Bonanza, 19-25, 25-17, 25-20
Hoover (Ala.) d. Faith Lutheran, 25-15, 25-20
La Costa Canyon (Calif.) d. Palo Verde, 25-21, 25-22
Liberty (Calif.) d. Shadow Ridge, 25-21, 25-21
Mater Dei (Calif.) d. Palo Verde, 25-18, 25-16
Palo Verde d. Thousand Oaks (Calif.), 30-8, 25-19
Redlands East Valley (Calif.) d. Foothill, 25-19, 25-14
Rim of the World (Calif.) d. Bonanza, 25-23, 26-24
Santa Fe Christian (Calif.) d. Coronado, 25-21, 25-23
South Delta (Canada) d. Durango, 25-21, 25-19
South Torrance (Calif.) d. Shadow Ridge, 22-25, 25-22, 25-18
Silver Championship, Assumption (Ky.) d. Dana Hills (Calif.), 25-17, 25-18
Gold Championship, Torrey Pines (Calif.) d. Kamehameha (Hawaii), 26-24, 23-25, 26-24