Gianna Ruggeroli hasn’t been the most consistent server this season for the Bishop Gorman girls volleyball team.
So with the Gaels on the verge of falling into a two-set hole against Shadow Ridge on Thursday, coach Ed Van Meetren admitted that the senior outside hitter wasn’t his first choice to spark a comeback.
“I was nervous with her going back to serve at that point,” Van Meetren said. “But we know she has it in her. She did an outstanding job.”
Thanks to a string of tough serves from Ruggeroli, the Gaels scored the final eight points of the second set and rallied for a 26-28, 26-24, 25-14, 25-21 victory in the semifinals of the Division I Sunset Region tournament at Legacy.
Ruggeroli finished with 14 kills and seven aces, and Victoria Ewalefo added 12 kills and four blocks as Gorman (28-7) advanced to the region final against Northwest League champion Palo Verde (33-4) at 6 p.m. today at Legacy.
“We’ve played some tough tournaments and we’ve done as much as we can to make sure we’re prepared and ready to compete, and they don’t quit,” Van Meetren said. “It took awhile, but we were able to get things going. Even when we got down in the second game, I was confident once we built some momentum we’d be pretty tough.”
The Mustangs (19-12) won the first set and went ahead 24-18 in the second set when Olivia Denny dived to dig Ruggeroli’s tip shot and the ball landed in the back corner. But Gorman was able to sideout on a kill by Ewalefo, and Ruggeroli then got on a hot streak from the service line.
“We had game point for five points, and we didn’t finish and execute like we wanted to,” Shadow Ridge coach Karissa Guthrie said. “At times, we played good defense, but we had a tough time with serve-receive.”
An ace by Ruggeroli cut the Mustangs’ lead to 24-23 and another ace put Gorman ahead 25-24 before the Gaels closed out the set. Gorman then scored seven of the first eight points in the third set to take control of the match.
The Gaels, the Southwest League No. 1 seed, ended with 15 aces.
Emma Filosi totaled 39 assists for the Gaels. Francesca Manz added nine kills and three blocks, and Emma Kirst chipped in with eight kills and four blocks as Gorman’s balance wore down the Mustangs.
“We’re battle-tested,” Van Meetren said. “You can’t key on one player for us. We have so many people, it’s hard to take away one aspect of it.”
Ashley Smith led the Mustangs with 21 kills, and Denny dished out 31 assists to go along with 17 digs.
■ Palo Verde 3, Centennial 0 — At Legacy, Lexi Riggs put away 12 kills, and Stephanie Herman finished with 30 assists, three kills, five digs and two aces as the Panthers swept the Bulldogs 25-13, 25-13, 25-15 in a Sunset Region semifinal.
Kendall Cheval tallied eight kills and 10 digs, and McCall Phillips chipped in with seven kills, seven digs and two blocks as Palo Verde continually exploited the soft spot in the middle of the Bulldogs’ defense.
Tiana Bonds led Centennial (21-12) with five kills; Cristina Owens, Taylor Hartle and Cydni Long had four kills each; and Kristi Farley recorded 18 assists.
Early in the season, Green Valley struggled to close out opponents. The Gators didn’t have that problem Thursday.
Nikki Drost had 13 kills, and Alley Seidler finished with 25 assists, eight digs and one block as Green Valley seized the momentum at the end of the first set and cruised to 25-19, 25-15, 25-16 victory over Foothill at Legacy.
The Northeast League champion Gators (27-7) will go for their fifth straight region title at 8 p.m. today when they face rival Coronado (28-6). Green Valley won two of three against the Cougars this season.
Foothill (17-14) hung close in the first set and the teams were tied at 17, but the Gators scored the next six points and Bridgette Dwyer’s tip closed out the set.
Green Valley opened the second set on an 11-2 run and jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the third set. Olivia Larson’s kill at the end of a long rally gave the Gators a 20-12 advantage before Dwyer put away the match-winner.
Dwyer finished with nine kills and eight of the Gators’ 19 blocks. Shanna Olsen had six kills and 10 digs, while Amanda Lake added 11 digs and three aces.
Nicolette White had six kills and three blocks, and Olivia Stet recorded five kills and five digs to lead Foothill. Cailey Bean added 20 assists and 10 digs, while Korina Bush led the defense with 23 digs.
■ Coronado 3, Basic 0 — At Legacy, Brooke Garlick had 12 kills and 10 digs, and Taylor Jackson notched 12 kills as the Cougars blanked the Wolves 25-14, 25-17, 25-9.
The Cougars never trailed in the first set and pulled away in the second set after three straight aces by Emily Bender gave Coronado a 13-8 lead.
Cali Thompson recorded 43 assists to go along with two kills, three digs and two aces for the Southeast League champion Cougars. Teammate Berkeley Oblad added 10 kills, and Nikki Jackson finished with six kills, five aces and five blocks.
Kyla Bohannon led Basic (16-12) with five kills and seven digs. Kali Weires had five kills and three blocks, Autumn Philipczyk notched five kills, and Christina Kelley dished out 17 assists for the Wolves.
Faith Lutheran cashed its ticket to the state tournament with an impressive 25-11, 25-9, 25-8 win over Clark in the semifinals at Chaparral.
Despite losing five starters from its 2012 squad, the Crusaders are perhaps the hottest team in the area, winning 17 of their past 18 matches.
“Ever since that last point at state, getting back to the tournament has been on the player’s minds,” Faith Lutheran coach Amy Fisher said. “I told them following the win that now you can go for the top seed, or be happy that you’re there.”
If Thursday is any indication, Faith Lutheran won’t take its foot off the pedal.
The Crusaders (24-12) won nine of the first 10 points in the first set and never looked back. Cayla Nikodemus had 16 kills and seven digs to lead Faith Lutheran. Courtney Hansen added 11 kills, six aces and eight digs. Megan Panikkar had 20 assists and six digs, and Nicole Thompson had three aces and seven digs for Faith, which plays Boulder City in the region final at 4 p.m. today at Legacy.
Clark finished 14-13.
■ Boulder City 3, Pahrump Valley 1 — At Chaparral, Whitney Barlow had 28 kills as the Eagles beat the Trojans 25-16, 20-25, 25-13, 30-28.
“It feels much better this year than after last year’s bitter loss,” Boulder City coach Cherise Hinman said. “Our hitters were up and down tonight, but when we needed key points, our players came through. Hopefully, a tough match like this will help us against Faith Lutheran.”
Kendall Miller had 35 assists for Boulder City (22-9), and Kaylin Koltyerhan added 23 digs for the Eagles.
Shayla Dance had seven blocks, and Mikayla Davis added six blocks for Pahrump Valley (18-17).