Higley stuns Campo Verde in sweep
September 28, 2023 by Hudson French, Arizona State University
Hudson French is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Higley High School for AZPreps365.com
Higley girls volleyball used a full-team effort Wednesday night to down the Campo Verde Coyotes at home in three sets, 25-15, 26-24, 25-16. The Knights and Coyotes entered the match as No. 1 and No. 2 in the 5A San Tan region, respectively.
Early in the first set, it was clear Higley believed this was a tough match as they made their first big substitution after going up on Campo Verde, 5-2. Coach Tyler Kraemer made it known just how tough their opponent was.
“Campo is no joke,” Kraemer said. “They’re good, and they’ve been good forever. They’re coached well, their players are good. Any time we can score on them, I’m going to be excited.”
His excitement was well-received as Kraemer said the team did not have a good practice on Tuesday, the middle of the school’s fall break.
“Honestly, after yesterday’s practice, it was dead in the gym,” senior middle Tanner Robinson said. “It looked like everybody just woke up and didn’t want to be there. Today was completely different. I didn’t expect it.”
Higley dominated the first set as five different players tallied kills and four different players served an ace. After three consecutive Higley errors brought the score to 12-11, the Knights went on a 13-4 run to close the set.
Kraemer spoke to the importance of getting different players involved.
“I think it inspired some of our seniors, especially our setters, because they know someone is coming after their spot and they have to play a little harder,” Kraemer said.
Campo Verde countered with an impressive second set, jumping out to an 18-14 lead. Stifling them though was Robinson, who powered an 8-4 run with two blocks and a kill to even the set at 22-22.
The match made it to 25-24 on a kill by junior middle hitter Symone Smith and Higley then finished it with a block by senior middle Avery Garrett.
In the third set, the Coyotes battled early again behind junior middle hitter Allison Pivonka, who downed two of her five blocks on the night.
With the score knotted at 8, Symone Smith earned a kill to start a 17-8 run for the Knights that ended the match.
Smith earned a start after a stellar three-kill performance in the fourth set of Higley’s win over Mountain Pointe on Monday night.
The Knights’ final stretch belonged to Robinson, who earned four kills including a savvy, well-placed ball in the heat of a rally (19-10), and two blocks.
“I think the MVP was Tanner Robinson,” Garrett said. “One of our coaches said jokingly that he wanted us middles to have 10 kills each. Tanner just blew that out of the park and ran with it. She got blocks and kills all over the place.”
Kraemer applauded all of the seniors’ efforts.
“You can tell they’re seniors because they make smarter plays,” Kraemer said. “That last play, we had to go away from the other team’s libero and Avery (Garrett) cut it to the other side and split it to where their defense wasn’t the strongest. She sealed the deal for us.”
Kraemer made note of the Knights’ dramatically improved communication, led by seniors Laci Degner, Tanner Robinson, and Avery Garrett.
“Talking is one of their best skills that I hope they pass down to the younger girls,” Kraemer said. “Even if it’s not perfect, it adds a level of comfort to everybody. Hearing each other’s voices is so powerful for the girls.”
That sentiment proved itself as outside hitters Lucy Schmidt and Degner joined Robinson with nine kills each. Schmidt added four aces.
Kraemer looks forward to the continued challenge of the tough San Tan division.
“I’m excited, man,” Kraemer said. “It’s going to be a dogfight. Our region is probably going to be the region to beat. I imagine we’re going to have four or five teams from our region in the playoffs.”
Higley (2-0, 6-3) continues region play at home Tuesday against Casteel (0-1, 6-2) at 6 p.m. Campo Verde will participate in the Nike TOC invitational Friday.