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I-A VOLLEYBALL: Mountain Lions put exclamation point on semifinal win

Sierra Vista led 2-0 Thursday in the semifinals of the Division I-A Southern Region volleyball tournament at Sunrise Mountain, and the team’s leaders — Bailey Bergquist, Sydney Land and Bridgette Levi — had no plans of letting Boulder City breathe in the third set.

The Mountain Lions (21-9) scored the first nine points, and Bergquist, Land and Levi all had thunderous kills to ignite a 21-point rout in the third game, as Sierra Vista won in straight sets 25-14, 25-23, 25-4. The Mountain Lions advance to Friday’s championship match against defending state champion Faith Lutheran.

“What I make sure to tell the girls is to never underestimate (the other team),” Bergquist said. “We have to earn it, no team is going to hand us a win, especially at this level. They wanted it just as bad as we did. I try to remind everyone not to get cocky and play each game the way it’s supposed to be played.

“Volleyball is about making mistakes, that’s how the other team gets points and we just need to remember that we can make them too. But it’s how fast we recover from them that makes us the players we are. I just want to be able to remind them of that on the court.”

And that’s exactly what the Lions did, methodically winning the first set by taking advantage of Boulder City’s miscues, grinding out the back-and-forth affair in the second set and putting an exclamation point on the victory in the third.

Bergquist led the Lions with 11 kills and 12 digs, Levi had eight kills and 10 digs and Land contributed with nine kills and four digs.

Sierra Vista coach Camille McComas commended her team leaders, but also said her rotation of reserves was timely and helped keep the Eagles guessing, while keeping her own team focused and avoid complacency. For instance, with Boulder City leading 16-15 in he second set, Sierra Vista libero Heaven Gutierrez made a key dig to keep the volley going and shift momentum back toward the Lions.

“We’ve been burnt before,” McComas said. “We got some players off the bench that made some key moves for us and changed momentum and created the spread. I think Heaven made a key play right there, and putting in Lexy Ross off the bench and getting us pepped up with some great kills, it gave us more dimension in the front row. I think that helped us as well.”

Nonetheless, it was Bergquist’s presence on the court that kept the momentum flowing for the Lions.

“It’s an amazing team with amazing girls with the most amazing talent and I love playing with them,” said Bergquist, a four-year varsity player. “I believe in them so much. I believe in them more than anything. I knew coming in today that we were going to win. Because when these girls want it and put their heads to it, they can do whatever they want.”

Lauren Pocius (7 kills), Maggie Roe (6 kills, 2 blocks) and Alyssa Ybarra (15 digs) led Boulder City (24-9).

Faith Lutheran 3, Virgin Valley 0 — The Crusaders (25-13) had no trouble in their straight-set victory, topping the Bulldogs, 25-18, 25-9, 25-18.

Megan Kronschnabel had 28 assists and four aces) to lead Faith Lutheran. Cayla Nikodemus (12 kills, nine digs) and Haley Vinson (six kills, two assists and two blocks) helped the Crusaders.

Emma Barnum had 10 kills and Bernice Fiso nine to lead Virgin Valley (19-12).

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