Whenever the Silverado girls volleyball team scrimmages, one side begins with a six-point lead to work on coming back from a deficit.
So when Green Valley took the first game of the Class 4A Sunrise Region championship game Friday, it was no big deal for the Skyhawks. And when the Gators led 19-14 and threatened to extend the match to a deciding fifth game? Been there, done that, too.
“It was totally like that,” Skyhawks junior Taylor Richard said. “Our coach said, ‘We practice this. This is nothing new to you guys.’ ”
Silverado dug itself out of those two holes behind Richard and senior Patti Flagg and went on to a 17-25, 25-18, 25-14, 26-24 win over the Gators at Centennial to capture its third consecutive regional crown.
The defending state champion Skyhawks (29-5) will play the winner of today’s Northern Region championship game between Bishop Manogue and Reno in the state semifinals at 8:40 p.m. Friday at Damonte Ranch in Reno.
“We spend a lot of time practicing coming from behind,” Silverado coach Jennifer Boeddeker said. “We try to build the mentality that no matter what the score is, keep our side and do what Silverado knows how to do.”
Richard led the Southeast No. 2 Skyhawks with 20 kills and 10 digs, while Flagg stepped up with 17 kills and 11 digs.
“Hats off to Silverado again, they definitely earned it,” Gators coach Erin Hill said. “Both their outside hitters got on a roll and we couldn’t answer with our defense or our block.”
Green Valley (27-11), which split its two matches earlier this season with Silverado, opened the regional title match on a 10-2 run and won the first game, but couldn’t maintain the momentum. The Skyhawks led by as many as eight points in the second game and raced to an 18-7 lead before taking the third game.
“Because we beat them in the first game, I think we thought we didn’t need to give our all,” Green Valley senior Sydney Brozovich said. “We (played) loose until we actually realized we needed to come back and fight. It was like a lull. We got relaxed.”
The Southeast No. 1 Gators answered early in the fourth game as Brozovich (eight kills) won a joust to put Green Valley on top 11-6 and the Gators’ lead swelled to 19-14. After a Silverado timeout, though, the Skyhawks scored five straight points to tie the game.
“We have a motto — ‘Refuse to lose’ — and we kept saying that over and over in the huddle,” Richard said. “It was just a matter of us cheering and being a team.”
Green Valley then fought off three match points before a kill from Richard and a Gators hitting error ended it.
Siga Appelgate finished with 12 kills and Jena Chavez handed out 25 assists for Green Valley.
“I think Silverado elevated (its) game,” Hill said. “In Games 2 and 3 we made a lot of unforced errors. If you make a lot of unforced errors at this level, it’s tough to come back against someone of Silverado’s caliber.”