Fountain Hills coach Peter McGloin felt the water hit him.
He missed out on the victory water shower when his indoor volleyball squad took this year’s state title, the Falcons’ first since 1997.
His beach volleyball squad made up for it.
“I don’t think I have one dry spot on my clothes right now,” he said. “So much excitement, this is the beauty of beach volleyball.”
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Fountain Hills claimed its first girl’s Division II beach volleyball crown in the state tournament over the Trivium Crimson Knights 3-2 on Wednesday night at Mesquite High School.
In their last meeting between during the regular season, the Falcons swept the duels 5-0. It looked to be the same story.
But in the end, it came down to the final fifth duel to determine the victor.
“They made adjustments and grew a lot since the last time we saw them,” McGloin said. “If there was any team in the finals that were going to play, whether we won or lost, that was the team we wanted to play.”
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The first two games swayed in the Falcons favor. Duos Erin Solomon and Jenn Stricker, alongside Gina Woods and Mia Rennes, held their matches to only two sets.
With a 2-0 lead and only one more match to name a state champion, it appeared to be no tall task for Fountain Hills to complete.
But the Knights didn’t allow the repeat from April.
Kylie Rusick and Maddy Schleifer tallied the squad’s first point of the evening, sweeping the first two sets from Alyssa Barbagallo and Ana Jackson.
On the court to the left of them, their black jersey teammates Cassidy Bates and Paula Rosztoczy forced a third set against Rylee Bell and Amelia Charles.
With the score at 14-13, Rosztoczy sent a strike the Falcon’s way. Bell’s fists tried to find it, but it hit the sand next to her instead. The 15-13 win set the tournament at a 2-2 draw.
“It’s the same conversation we had all year,” McGloin said. “It was just a matter of people holding themselves accountable to those standards that we set and we did. We saw some good resilience in the end.”
Rosztoczy helped keep the state title in sight for the Knights. Now it was up to her older sister Anna Rosztoczy and partner Macyn Willingham to finish it.
The Trivium couple looked unstoppable, winning the first set over Fountain Hill’s KC MacMahon and Alexa Armenta, winning the first set 21-7.
Communication ended up being a key in shaking off the nerves from the Falcons pairing. They captured the second set 21-14.
“We always come in together, hold hands and just tell each other that we are here to support each other no matter what,” Armenta said. “Shake off the last point.”
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The third set took more time to be decided. McMahon and Armenta jumped to an early lead, sinking to a Trivium 5-1 hole. The Falcons slowly chipped away at the point gap. Once McMahon’s serve flew into the crowd, the game tied up at eight apiece.
From there, both teams matched each other point-for-point. But the Falcons reached match point first.
The score sat at 14-11 as Anna leaped to send a volley. But it brushed her palm, hit the net and fell back on the Knight’s side of the court.
Seconds ticked by as the crowd waited for the game-ending confirmation from the referees.
As soon as they gave it, a swarm of blue jerseys tackled Armenta and McMahon to the ground.
“I was getting emotional at the last point,” Armenta said. “It was so surreal for us. We had fun throughout the whole game, and that’s all that mattered in the end.”
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