Green Valley's girls volleyball team had a banner season in 2010, winning its second straight Sunrise Region championship and advancing to the Class 4A state title match.
But one weekend still stands out to Gators coach Erin Hill.
"The Durango tournament has always been a turning point for us, and it's usually a positive turning point," Hill said. "We had a very rough tournament last year, and we got past a very poor performance. But we're getting another chance this year. This is our opportunity to really turn the corner and compete."
The Gators (11-1, 2-0 Southeast) will take a crack at redemption beginning Friday at the Durango Fall Classic. The tournament, widely considered one of the most prestigious in the United States, boasts 48 teams from Alaska to Hawaii to Kentucky to Georgia, including national powers Assumption (Ky.), Xavier (Ariz.), defending tournament champion Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) and runner-up La Costa Canyon (Calif.).
Green Valley entered last year's tournament rated favorably, with a seeding that placed the Gators among the top eight pools. But an 0-4 pool-play finish and qualifying match losses led to a 37th-place finish.
This year, Hill said her team is ready to match up with the elite competition.
"You have to play up a level," she said. "We've got another gear that we haven't seen yet, and I'm excited that (elite teams) are all coming back, that they keep wanting to come to Las Vegas. It's a great atmosphere."
The Gators' up-tempo offense relies heavily on senior setter Jenna Swaffer, who has 221 assists at an average of 8.5 per game.
"(Swaffer) is the one who runs the offense," Hill said. "She decides who's going to get the ball. And that first pass is key; if that's not consistent, then we're going out of our system."
■ UNLV SNAGS LOCAL -- Bonanza senior girls volleyball standout Bree Hammel made an oral commitment to UNLV.
Hammel, a 5-foot-11-inch outside hitter, earned first-team All-Southwest League honors each of the past two seasons. She had 273 kills and 249 digs as a junior.
Hammel also took second place in the triple jump at 36 feet, 5¾ inches at last year's Class 4A state track and field meet and drew recruiting interest from the Rebels' track and field program.
■ SOCCER FORFEIT -- Cheyenne's boys soccer team self-reported the use of an ineligible player during an 8-1 win at The Meadows on Sept. 1, and the Desert Shields have forfeited the match.