Dance party continues for Deer Valley

May 9, 2023 by Jose Garcia, AZPreps365

Deer Valley (in black) is two wins away from its first title since 2010. (Jose Garcia/azpreps365)

Deer Valley’s fun bunch is heading to the state semifinals.

The Skyhawks love to dance after a big play, and they had plenty of them Tuesday when they shimmied their way to a 25-21, 25-19, 25-13 home win over Seton Catholic. The next stop in Deer Valley’s 4A volleyball/dance tour is the Final 4 on Thursday against region mate Estrella Foothills.

Even Deer Valley’s coach, Eric Palmer, joined the party while celebrating with his boys on a couple of occasions.

“Our energy is what drives us,” Palmer said. “That’s who I am. I feel like I can give that positive energy to the guys when they need it the most, but also bring them back and calm them down.”

Rylan Colman (16 kills) and Justus Clark (13 kills) had their fans jumping out of their seats.

Wyatt McGriff (15 digs) kept plays alive.

And their setter, Alex Flores, ran Deer Valley’s offense smoothly.

“It was one of the most fun matches we’ve had all season,” said Flores, a Dominican University commit. “The last three years we haven’t made it past the quarterfinals. Last year was a heartbreak. This year we have a special group. We do it for our coach. I do it for my family. This just means a lot to me.”

The scrappy Seton Catholic Sentinels did show some fight in the match.

First, when they were down 24-18 in the first game and scored the next three points. But a block finished that game in Deer Valley’s favor.

Deer Valley’s defense grabbed the attention early in Game 2 when two digs players had to reach for eventually led to a Clark smash. With Flores serving at that point, Deer Valley (28-11-1) went on a 6-0 run to go up 11-7.

But back came the Sentinels to retake the lead (15-14). Nick Pirrotta had his moments in the match for a Seton Catholic (21-11) program that won 21 matches this season.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” Seton Catholic coach John Engelbert said. “The way they’ve fought. Not just this season. In my four years here, they’ve all done a great job. We’ve turned the program around as a team. The guys are working hard in the offseason and playing club. We’ve come a long ways since I started here. I’m excited for the future of the program and where we are headed.”

Engelbert’s team went up against a program that just had more firepower.

A couple of blocks and a McGriff ace helped end Game 2. In Game 3, Deer Valley took control after it was leading 10-9.

Since it beat its next opponent twice, including during a five set match, Deer Valley figures to have its hands full against Estrella Foothills on Thursday. But the Skyhawks will be ready.

“The guys are locked in,” Palmer said. “They’re focused, and they are really working hard for each other.”