The Tech boys volleyball team was about to fall apart.
Less than a week before the start of the Division I-A state tournament, the Roadrunners were on the verge of a collapse and held a two-hour team meeting in an effort to salvage their once-promising season.
“We were a hot mess,” Tech coach Tiare Monga said.
Tyler Gardenhire finished with 18 kills, and Miguel Garcia added 25 assists as the Roadrunners topped Mojave 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-21 in the title match Wednesday at Chaparral.
“We kept it positive,” Monga said of the meeting. “We are a tight-knit, strong family. When we need each other, we’re there.”
The Rattlers (16-8) used an 8-0 run midway through the opening set to jump out to an early lead and were up 13-12 in the second set before Tech (18-1) rallied.
“When the whole team has to really prove themselves in tight-game situations, we come together even more,” Gardenhire said. “The bench brought us up, the crowd brought us up, and the momentum ended up carrying us through.”
Tech went on a 7-1 run in the second set to go up 19-14 and turned a 10-9 deficit in the third set into a 19-13 lead when Josh Wood blocked Christian Limtiaco.
Mojave then fought off three set points and closed to within 24-23 before a net violation closed out the set and gave the Roadrunners a 2-1 lead.
“Having not been in the situation before, I think some of the kids got tight,” Mojave coach Erik Davis said. “(Tech) was effective running its middle attack, and we just didn’t seem to have the answers.”
In the fourth set, the Rattlers jumped out to a 9-3 lead on a big block by Darryl Miller-Green before Tech began to chip away.
Omar Mena’s kill tied the set at 17, and the Roadrunners went ahead 24-20 on Gardenhire’s kill. After Mojave survived one match point, Gardenhire put the match away with his final kill.
“We needed to lose that first game because that was the most humbling thing for us,” Monga said. “They never wanted to feel that feeling again, and it showed when they won the next three games.”