SUNRISE REGION: Gators sweep Silverado to advance to state

With Green Valley’s girls volleyball team one point away from its second straight Sunrise Region championship, Emma Johnson blasted a hard kill that soared toward the back line.
“I wasn’t sure it was going in, I’m not going to lie,” Johnson said. “I was really lucky. I just wanted it down. … It doesn’t matter how we do it, (the ball) just has to go down.”
Johnson nailed that shot inches inside the back line — one of 10 kills on the night — and the Gators came away with a 28-26, 25-19, 25-15 victory over Silverado in Friday’s Sunrise title match at Las Vegas High.
The win sent the Gators to next week’s state tournament in Reno and left Johnson, one of five seniors on the team, beaming as she stood in a crowd of celebrating players and students.
“It’s a big deal, especially two years in a row,” said Johnson, who also had two aces. “We (seniors) all knew it was our last year to play Gator volleyball, our last year to do anything. Everyone was very selfless, and were doing it for the seniors. We needed to lead them out — this might be the last time we ever go with these people — so let’s just put it all out on the court.”
The Skyhawks (20-13) took a 24-21 lead in the first game, but Johnson blasted a kill to start a 7-2 run, then dove for a dig that sailed over the net to give the Gators (27-9) the win.
Nikki Drost had nine kills and two aces for the Gators, who also got 25 assists from Jenna Swaffer and six kills and two blocks from Carly Schiess.
“It was crazy. (The first game) was back-and-forth, definitely a battle,” Swaffer said. “It was a tough fight, but we pulled it out, came back up from being down. It was a great feeling, to pull it together as a team and get it back.”
Green Valley coach Erin Hill said she used some blasts from the past to help inspire her team.
“Whenever it’s tournament time, a  special time of year for the Gators, your e-mails and texts are flooded with (messages from) old players,” Hill said. “I printed a few of them, and read them to the kids. I said, ‘This is the legacy that you’re upholding.’ And they were so psyched.”
The Gators will play the loser of Saturday’s Northern Region final between Bishop Manogue and Galena, while the Northern champion will play Sunset Region champ Bishop Gorman.

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