Buckeye Verrado sent a message to volleyball teams in Division II on Wednesday night (Sept. 4).
And that message is, “Even though we moved up from Division III, we have a good team and we aren’t going to go away any time soon.’’
The Vipers showed why with a 3-1 victory over visiting Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, which had reached the D-II semifinals last season.
Verrado won the first two games against Notre Dame 25-23 and 25-18, dropped the third game25-21 and then regrouped to win the fourth game 25-23, holding back a furious rally by the Saints in the process.
“This was a huge win for our school,’’ said Verrado coach Jamie Gordon.
“Being in Division III, Section III last year, we didn’t often go against established teams like Notre Dame. So we didn’t know how this one was going to go. But we played well tonight. We are just a little west Valley school, trying to make a name for ourselves.’’
Verrado, which opened the season on Tuesday (Sept. 3) with a 3-0 win over nearby Buckeye, trailed Notre Dame 22-18 in the first game. But the Vipers maintained their composure and came back for the win.
The momentum carried over into the second game. But Notre Dame, which opened with a 3-0 win over Phoenix North Canyon for new coach Sara Fox on Tuesday, wasn’t going to give up after dropping the first two.
Notre Dame trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth game, only to battle back again, cutting the lead to 22-21 and then 24-23 after Verrado scored two straight points and nearly pushed the Saints over the edge.
Gordon called timeout and gathered her players together.
“We just need one point, one point and we can go home. Just focus on that,’’ she said she told the girls.
The Vipers didn’t have to worry as Notre Dame served the ball into the net to end it.
Verrado got some great serves from junior Maitland Longquist and strong all-around play from junior Rylie Steg. But the player who caught everyone’s eye was sophomore outside hitter Celine White.
She displayed an effective mix of power and touch.
Gordon said the 5-foot-10 White raised the level of her game over the summer by working with the Arizona High Performance club team.
“It is going to be very interesting to see her continue to develop over the next couple of years,’’ Gordon said.