It was rock bottom for Green Valley’s girls volleyball team two seasons ago, when the majority of its team decided not to play and the school failed to make the playoffs for the first time since it opened in 1991.
But after squeaking into the playoffs last season and putting on an impressive showing in this weekend’s Las Vegas Invitational, it appears the Gators are back to rule the Sunrise Region.
Green Valley lost to Central (California), 27-25, 25-19, in the gold bracket semifinals at Las Vegas High on Saturday, but finished as the top Southern Nevada school in the 38-team tournament after winning seven of eight matches.
Ramona (California) defeated Central 27-25, 25-13 in the gold bracket final.
“It means a lot to be the top Vegas team,” said Green Valley coach Erin Hill, in her 26th season. “It means that we’ve come a long way. We stuck together through thick and thin, when there were a lot of naysayers and these kids were sophomores. We’re building a program and it takes time. It wasn’t going to happen overnight.”
Green Valley, which went 6-0 in pool play, topped Palo Verde in three sets in the gold bracket quarterfinals to set up the match with Central.
“The things we’ve been working really hard in practice, we were able to transfer them to the games,” Hill said. “We talked about quality and first contact, really focusing on that. And if we got out of system, then we’d have to hit the reset button and get back on. …
“We only won one match in this tournament last year. We were 1-6. So when we won the first one (Friday), we were equal to that. Then we won our second one, so we were twice as good as we were last year. Then three times, then four, then five, then six, then seven.”
In the match against Central, the Gators nearly pulled off the first set but ultimately fell short, 27-25.
With the score tied at 13 in the second set, the Grizzlies used an 8-3 run to pull away.
Senior outside hitter Rachel Klopfer had seven kills, four aces and three digs, and teammate Abby Olsen had 16 assists for the Gators.
Emily Flowers added seven digs and two aces, and Anya Olsen had six kills for Green Valley (7-1).
Despite the loss, Hill wasn’t disappointed in her team’s effort.
“Central is a quality team. Very good team,” Hill said. “They handled Silverado the match before. It would’ve been nice to finish that first set when we had the opportunity, but we’ll put in a drill that will help us learn to do that. Our team camaraderie, the way they kept the team energy up, the way they support each other is just amazing.”
Chatsworth (Calif.) 2, The Meadows 0 — At Las Vegas, the Chancellors defeated the Mustangs 25-22, 25-16 for the Bronze Division championship at the Las Vegas Invitational.
Dani Mason led The Meadows with nine kills and eight digs. Anna Dorn added 11 digs for the Mustangs, and teammate Emily Ebel had six assists and eight digs.
Foothill 2, The Meadows 0 — At Las Vegas, the Falcons beat the Mustangs 25-20, 25-15 in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Ebel had eight assists and six digs to lead The Meadows. Mason added four kills, six digs and three aces for the Mustangs, and Dorn had eight digs.
Ramona (Calif.) 2, The Meadows 0 — At Las Vegas, the Bulldogs defeated the Mustangs 25-13, 25-10 in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Dorn led The Meadows with eight digs, and Dina Kosyagin added three kills and two blocks.
The Meadows 2, Liberty 0 — At Las Vegas, Mason had eight kills and four digs to lead the Mustangs to a 25-22, 25-22 victory over the Patriots in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Ebel had 10 assists and four digs, and Beau Thistle added five kills and two blocks for The Meadows.
The Meadows 2, Sanger (Calif.) 1 — At Las Vegas, Kosyagin had nine kills and three aces to lead the Mustangs to the win in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Mason had seven kills and 12 digs, and Ebel had 15 assists and nine digs for The Meadows. Dorn added 10 digs for the Mustangs.
The Meadows 2, Durango 0 — At Las Vegas, Mason and Alexi-Rose Corrigan each had seven kills to lead the Mustangs over the Trailblazers in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Ebel added nine assists and four digs, and Hannah Mullholland had four kills and three aces for The Meadows.
Calvary Chapel 2, Fernley 0 — At Yerington, Olivia Kaiser had five kills as the Lions beat the Vaqueros 25-17, 25-15 in the Yerington Invitational.
Talina Inguanzo added four kills, and Lexi Davis had eight assists and four aces for the Lions.
Spanish Springs 2, Calvary Chapel 0 — At Yerington, the Cougars defeated the Lions 25-18, 25-10 in the Yerington Invitational.
Gabriella Abi-Nader and Inguanzo each had three kills for Calvary Chapel.
Dayton 2, Calvary Chapel 2 — At Yerington, the Dust Devils defeated the Lions 21-25, 25-16, 15-9 in the Yerington Invitational.
Kaiser led Calvary Chapel with nine kills and six digs, and Sara Hernandez added eight digs and two blocks for the Lions.