VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS: Salpointe advances to semifinal round

November 2, 2017 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

No. 3 Salpointe swept No. 6 Seton Catholic 25-21, 25-17 and 25-14 Thursday night at home to advance to the semifinal round of the 4A state playoffs for the third year in a row.

Salpointe (31-6) beat Greenway 3-1 last year to capture the first state championship from a Southern Arizona team in the “big school” category in 23 years and the Lancers seem poised to fight for another one this fall, but the team will have a huge hurdle in the semifinal round with No. 2 Cactus waiting for them.

Cactus beat No. 10 Marcos de Niza 3-1 to set up the semifinal match to be played on Tuesday night at Mountain Pointe High School with the start time set for 5 p.m. The Lancers beat Cactus 3-1 in the first round last year.

No. 1 Cactus Shadows will play No. 4 Sunrise Mountain in the other semifinal match, slated for 6:30 p.m.

Seton Catholic (25-9) entered the night on a ten-match win streak, including a 3-0 sweep over No. 11 Youngker in the first round. The team only gave up three sets in that stretch and the first set at Salpointe was in question with both teams tied at 19-19. That’s when the duo of senior setter Peyton Lewis and senior outside Alanna Duarte made their presence known.

Lewis is averaging over 10 assists a set with roughly 40 % of those passes ending up with Duarte – no matter where she is on the court. The duo has played together since the eighth grade and it has been a year-round partnership that includes beach volleyball.

“We know what needs to be done but we are friends first,” Duarte explained. “We do have a bond and it comes from playing with each other for a long time.”

The duo connected 17 times against Seton Catholic with three of those kills coming in the final moments of the first set. The Lancers went on a 6-2 run to close it out 25-21.

The second set played pretty even to an 10-10 tie, but the Lancers went on a 15-7 run to end it 25-17. Once again, Duarte collected three kills when the Sentinels made a minor run to cut the lead down to 19-16 and she added an ace to seal the deal.

The third set played out almost the same with both teams tied at 11-11 but the Lancers went on a 14-3 run for the sweep.

“We didn’t know much about them coming in,” Duarte added. “We knew we would have to play intense, technical and together. We would have to play our best.”

Lewis collected 37 assists for Salpointe, Duarte had 17 kills, junior Madison Sundholm had eight kills as did sophomore Abby Russell. Lewis and Duarte are top contenders for the Southern Arizona Player of the Year honors while standout outside hitter Andrea Owens is looking to collect a Freshman of the Year nod.

The Sentinels are loaded with juniors with Emily Mangone, Nikki Fulmer, Leighton Gagnon, Jessica Kuras, Katie Bannon and Maggie Scranton leading the team in the kills category. Sophomore Delaney Shearon put together over 500 assists on the year and she did a remarkable job of distribution. This team will be back next year, and they will be favorites.