When Phoenix Horizon’s volleyball team played host to Phoenix Xavier on Sept. 25, Horizon won the first two sets but nearly let the match slip away as Xavier came roaring back to force five sets.
As Horizon prepared to visit Xavier in a rematch on Wednesday night (Oct. 16), the Huskies were intent on not allowing that type of thing to happen again.
It didn’t happen. Not even close.
From the opening serve, the Division I defending champion Huskies were focused and played one of their best all-around matches of the season, rolling to a 25-18, 25-15, 25-18 sweep.
“We came into the match with the mindset of that it would be all about our side of the net and what we would be able to do,’’ Horizon coach Valorie McKenzie said. “It went to five sets last time, and it was time for us to play good volleyball.’’
According to McKenzie, her team frustrated Xavier with a very high percentage of digs – in the upper 90 percent range – and that limited the impact of Xavier’s kill attempts.
“We picked up our defense,’’ McKenzie said.
Horizon had 52 kills that were pretty much spread evenly across the board. Sierra Nobley led the way with 11. And setter Lauren Conati did her job to near-perfection with 32 assists.
Meanwhile, Xavier, the D-I runner-up to Horizon seemed listless most of the way.
The Gators had sophomore Khalia Lanier and junior Molly Scheel back after both missed the last two weeks. They had suffered similar injuries after colliding in practice.
Lanier had her moments, but uncharacteristically was off the mark with some of her powerful kill attempts that went wide. Horizon’s tall front line also had its share of blocks to go with the aforementioned digs.
This win left McKenzie optimistic about her team’s chances for a strong showing in the upcoming Nike Tournament of Champions this weekend in Chandler, Tempe and Gilbert. Xavier also will participate.