O'Connor's Rama and Wiest defeat teammates in D-I pairs title match

May 4, 2023 by Jose Garcia, AZPreps365

Piper Rama (left) and Devin Wiest had plenty of reasons to smile Thursday at Casteel High. (Jose Garcia/azpreps365)

Sandra Day O’Connor’s Piper Rama and Devyn Wiest saved their best for last.

The dynamic duo became the first unseeded team to claim a beach volleyball pairs title Thursday at Casteel High. It was bittersweet, though.

Rama and Wiest defeated Division I’s top-seeded team, Olivia Le Blanc and Liana Huesca, 22-20, 21-19 in the first beach pairs championship featuring teammates. But Piper and Wiest weren’t the only ones that made history.

Korah Nordin and Kate Phillips of Valley Christian defended their Division II crown after defeating No. 2 Jordan Faircloth and Rylen Bourget of Salpointe 21-11, 21-15. Nordin and Phillips now hold the distinction of being the first pair to repeat since the Arizona Interscholastic Association introduced the doubles championships in 2018.

Kate Phillips and Korah Nordin (Mark Jones/maxpreps.com)

Valley Christian’s No. 1’s finished 20-0 and didn’t drop a set this season.

The ending to the D-I match exhibited the determination Rama and Wiest displayed Thursday, when they also defeated another favorite, No. 3 seed Natalie Lorenzi and Lucci Alexander of Desert Ridge, in three sets in the D-I semfinals.

In the best rally of the D-I final, with the ball going over the net six times, Rama and Wiest stretched out a couple of times to keep the ball in play.

A passing error at the end closed out the match and beach volleyball season on a perfect summer night for beach volleyball in the desert.

“We just stayed composed, because we know (Huesca and Le Blanc),” Wiest said. “We just wanted to go out and ball out."

Rama, who received most of the serves, also came through during key moments.

“I also feel we had that mindset of let’s just have fun, and that kept us composed,” Rama said.

Rama’s brother, Zach, led his boys to a title at Sandra Day O’Connor last year, finishing undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation by maxpreps.

Needless to say Sandra Day O’Connor is enjoying a great stretch of volleyball. The school’s beach volleyball team defended its D-I team title this season.

The architect of the beach program, Jamey Spartz, didn’t coach in the D-I pairs final. She stood at a distance along with her assistants, with their stomachs churning while watching their teams battle.

“The nerves were more about the outcome,” said Spartz about the competitive match each team wanted to win badly. “Because you were cheering for both. I’m so proud of both teams.”

Sandra Day O'Connor beach volleyball coach Jamey Spartz was very proud of the way her top pairs teams, (l-r) Piper Rama, Devyn Wiest, Liana Huesca and Olivia Le Blanc, performed Thursday. (Jose Garcia/azpreps365) 

A visibly disappointed Le Blanc showed a lot of class after the match while answering questions from media.

Excluding two regular season tournament one set matches, this was the first time that Le Blanc and Huesca faced O’Connor’s No. 2’s.

“The team has accomplished incredible things this year, winning back-to-back (team beach titles),” Le Blanc said. “I always say never take it for granted, because that is an opportunity that you will never see. I think all of the girls worked really hard, and they all earned it.”