GILBERT — It took a few extra points to avoid a deciding game, but Mountain View held on to reach its first boys volleyball state championship match in school history.
“We knew we could put it away, we thought we were the better team,” said outside hitter Preston Gibbons. “So we all had the grit to keep playing so we could finish it and not have to force a fifth set.”
The third-seeded Mountain Lions outlasted No. 10 Queen Creek American Leadership Academy 32-30 in the fourth game to win 3-1 on Thursday night at Highland High School. Mountain View won 23-25, 25-21, 25-13, 32-30.
Mountain View (18-2) will play No. 4 Gilbert Campo Verde at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Highland for the 5A title.
“We really needed to push and we knew what we had to do,” said setter Darean Schug. “We all wanted it just as bad.”
ALA lost in title match to Gilbert Higley a year ago.
Coach Lindsey Spivey said her Mountain Lions were nervous heading into the semifinal. It showed when the Mountain Lions couldn’t get their offense going in the first set and allowed ALA to take the first set 25-23.
“Sometimes this team will come out like that,” Spivey said. “We won’t know what to expect. But once they get their bearings, once game two hits, game one is over. It’s done. It’s in our rear view. We know what we have to do.”
That’s what happened on Thursday. In game two, Mountain View found its offense. Schug started feeding hitters Elijah Elmer (12 kills), Caleb Crook (nine kills) and Gibbons (eight kills). Mountain View jumped out to early leads in the second and third games to take control.
Set four began as the previous two — with the Mountain Lions scoring the first four points. They led 16-10 at one point, but ALA rallied behind an effective block and key hitting. The Patriots led 25-24, 27-26 and 29-28, before a short serve and missed kill attempt gave Mountain View the victory.
“It was amazing, everyone is doing their role,” Gibbons said. “If the defense was slipping, offense would make up; if offense was slipping, defense would make it up; and then when everyone was on, we just went off, and no one was able to stop us.”
Mountain View was upset by No. 15 Glendale Raymond S. Kellis as a No. 2 seed in the first round a year ago. In 2017, the Mountain Lions were eliminated in a play-in match.
Mountain View beat Horizon Honors 3-1 in the first round last weekend, but needed five sets to eliminate Salpointe in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
“These boys have fought so hard for where they are, they have earned every single W we have gotten this season,” Spivey said. “All this is new territory but what is not new to us is how to play volleyball. They showed how to play, they fought like they know how and they never wavered.”