Michael Zarich
ASU Student Journalist

Perry dethrones Corona Del Sol in 6A state semifinal

November 10, 2023 by Michael Zarich, Arizona State University

Perry won match point over Corona del Sol on this kill (Photo by Michael Zarich/AZPreps365)

Michael Zarich is a student journalist at Arizona State University assigned to cover Perry High School for AZPreps365.com

The 6A conference's seventh seed Perry staged a huge comeback victory over the 6A defending champion and third seed Corona Del Sol in five sets (25-17, 16-25, 26-24, 21-25, 17-15) in the state semifinals on Thursday.

With D-1 talent everywhere on the court, the energy in the building was electric it and the match lived up to the hype. 

Both teams dominated each other in the first two sets, then the third and fourth were nail-biters. The Aztecs stormed out to a commanding 8-1 lead in front of their raucous home crowd until the Pumas rallied and cut the margin to three.

"Our defenders in the back row did an amazing job and had some great blocks early in the match," Perry head coach Fred Mann said. 

"The grit that we showed, I mean we were down 8-1 in the fifth set and came back to win. I've never heard of that before, and I'm absolutely stoked with the girls' win." 

They went down again to their final point, to remarkably tie it at 14 apiece and eventually winning the thriller.

Perry's junior outside hitter Mckaley Herr led the team with 16 kills followed by senior middle blocker Reese Biesemeyer with 11. Biesemeyer and junior MB Kenna Cogill both had each had six blocks, and senior defense specialist Nicole Kim had the team-high 29 digs. 

"I thought I defended pretty well down the stretch of that game and read the blocks on the other team pretty well to give my hitters opportunities to get kills," Perry senior setter Kate Wagner said about her team-best 24 assists.

What builds special teams is the chemistry between the players on and off the court. The experience playing with each other creates a close knit group that believes in each other.

"I’m super close with a lot of the juniors on this team, known a lot of these girls for the longest time, and I’ve been playing with a bunch of them for so many years now," said Wagner. "We all want it and we’ve come together so much."

Not only was this one of the best comeback wins anyone will ever see in a fifth set, but it was sweet revenge for the Pumas as they were knocked out by Corona Del Sol in the same round last year.

“It's just really cool to see us work together for this goal and for it to finally happen to us,” said Wagner.

The relentlessness, passion and sheer will to refuse to lose is a testament to the type of competitors and women they are. 

“They’re just fighters,” Mann said. “They’re scrappers, and I don't know that we played perfect volleyball but we always find a way somehow.” 

Perry will face number top seed Sandra Day O'Connor in the championship on Friday at 7 p.m.