Horizon volleyball downs Valley Vista to advance to 6A quarterfinals

The Horizon bench celebrates after the Huskies scored the final point to claim the 3–1 victory over Valley Vista in the first round of the 6A Playoffs. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Though it has been a while — five years to be exact — since it lifted the trophy, the Horizon High School volleyball program still has championship DNA.

Valley Vista High School volleyball fought back from down 22-20 in a grueling third set, winning 25-23.

“We got a little complacent in that third set and careless on some passing. It slipped away,” Horizon Coach Valorie McKenzie said following the match.

The momentum from the end of the third carried over to a 5-0 start for the Monsoon in the fourth but Coach McKenzie called a timeout and the host Huskies fought back like elite level programs are accustomed, using a balance of aces from setter Claire Smith and outside hitter Tori Anderson.

No. 7 Horizon responded to make sure this 6A first-round matchup did not go five sets, like the regular season match. No. 10 seed Valley Vista ran out of gas, succumbing in four to Horizon (21-25, 15-25, 25-23, 21-25)

Horizon (28-11) will face defending state champion and No. 2 seed Corona del Sol High School Thursday in the 6A Quarterfinals.

Horizon outside hitter Tori Anderson passes the ball during Horizon’s 3–1 win over Valley Vista in the first round of the 6A playoffs. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

“We have a chance and know — from two previous meetings this year — how great a team Corona is. It’ll take us leaving it all out there come Thursday,” Coach McKenzie said. “We have to get some Defense and it’ll be interesting. Brooke Nunviller is a great player.”

The Monsoon did a sound job of blocking with senior middle blocker Tiyana Moore, junior middle blocker Christina VanLith and senior outside hitter Breanna Allen — but the size and will of Horizon was just too much.

Coach Chavez was pleased with the best season in the history of Monsoon volleyball. Valley Vista won 33 games against just six defeats. One third of the losses were to Horizon.

Allen and Kyla Chavez are expecting to sign with Glendale Community College. However both are keeping their options open through signing day and club season.

Valley Vista Head Coach David Chavez briefly elaborated on the year.

“It’s bittersweet we felt we had a good chance to make a run. We won a lot of games. I’ll miss this group,” Coach Chavez said after the game. “Felt we fought hard in the third and fourth but you can’t dig an 0-2 hole, specially against a great program in Horizon.”

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