Gilbert vs. Ironwood Ridge - 11-04-2021 (azpreps 365)


Gilbert VB topples Ironwood Ridge
November 4, 2021 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Gilbert's volleyball team didn't have to survive a play-in match to reach the state tournament this year. It appears it made a difference.

After winning play-in matches three years in a row only to bow out in the first round of state all three years, the third-seeded Tigers began in the round of 16 and rolled to a 25-19, 25-15, 25-16 victory over #14 Ironwood Ridge at The Jungle.

Gilbert (16-2) moves on to the quarters on Tuesday Nov. 9 against a familiar opponent - region rival and #6 seed Casteel. Casteel advanced by defeating #11 Paradise Valley, 3-1. Gilbert swept Casteel twice in region play this season. Ironwood Ridge finished its season 11-8.

Gilbert never trailed in any set and felt the most resistance from Ironwood Ridge in the opening set. The Tigers led by as many as five late (22-17). The Nighthawks closed to within 22-19, but a service error, a kill and an ace by Naia Stewart closed it out.

The second set got away from Ironwood Ridge early. A 14-7 lead aided by two aces from Gilbert's Vanja Djekic and kill by freshman hitter Raegan Richardson allowed the Tigers to finish with ease.

The third set was more peril for Ironwood Ridge. The Nighthawks trailed 14-6, but managed to perk up cutting the margin to 16-12. It was all Gilbert to the end. Three aces from McKenzie Schoenhardt and two kills each by Stewart and Sydney Mahon finished a one-hour match.

It was a strong outing - as usual in Gilbert coach Joe Hesse's mind - by Schoenhardt.

"Our libero (Schoenhardt) was great tonight," Hesse said. "I think she's as good as there is. She kind of goes unnoticed."

Schoenhardt, a junior, piled up 26 digs. Front line players Mahon, Richardson and Elli Walker had two blocks apiece. Offensively Stewart and Mahon collected 11 kills each and Walker added six. Setter Alex Johnson had 32 assists.

Ironwood Ridge's kills leader for the season - Allison Birtcil - led her team with 10.

Hesse shrugged off the notion the match might be easy playing a #14 seed.

"Bill Lang is as good a coach as there is," Hesse said. "Been doing it a long time. We seemed to have some jitters early, but settled down and needed to."

All the 5A high seeds won their first-round matches on Thursday. The quarterfinal match-ups for Tuesday Nov. 9 - #8 Campo Verde at #1 Horizon; #5 Arcadia at #4 Cactus Shadows; Casteel at Gilbert; #7 Sunrise Mountain at #2 Millennium.

#3 Gilbert VB continues mastery over #6 Casteel
October 12, 2021 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

First place alone in the 5A San Tan Region was on the line Tuesday night as region unbeatens Casteel and Gilbert collided at The Jungle.

Gilbert pulled away late in a tight opening set and had its way the rest of the evening in dispatching Casteel via sweep. Scores were 25-18, 25-15, 25-16. Gilbert, owning a #3 ranking in 5A in the latest power rankings, improved to 11-1 overall in power-ranking matches and 4-0 in region. No. 6 Casteel dropped to 9-4, 3-1.

The win marked the seventh time in a row Gilbert has defeated Casteel in volleyball. Six of the seven have been sweeps. Casteel won its only meeting in the series in 2018.

"I hadn't seen film on them and didn't know what to expect," Gilbert coach Joe Hesse said. "Everyone was getting back from a week off. We practiced yesterday and it wasn't a very good one. Just had to wait and see what we got."

Hesse ended up getting a solid performance, all things considered.

The first set was mostly a one- to two-point affair. Gilbert held a brief four-point edge (19-15), but Casteel closed to within 19-18. The Tigers kicked into gear using a 6-0 run to finish the set. Casteel was serving seeking a tie at 19-18 , but a service error, three Gilbert blocks and a kill ended the Colts bid to take the first set.

Gilbert's Sydney Mahon contributed two blocks and assisted on a third in the last opening-set run and Becca King had the kill. Gilbert endured one brief stumble the rest of the evening. The Tigers spotted Casteel a 5-1 lead in the second set, but gained the advantage for good at 9-8 and led 13-8 at the halfway mark. The lead grew to a 10-point margin at the finish with Naia Stewart (three kills) and King (two) leading the attack.

The third set was all Gilbert. Mahon and King were the forces guiding a 14-7 lead with Mahon supplying three kills and two aces, and King three kills. Casteel tried to rally pulling within 16-12, but two kills each from Stewart, King and off the bench from Ellie Schmidt highlighted a 9-4 finish.

Gilbert's attack was led by Mahon with 13 kills, Stewart (10), King (8) and Richardson (7). McKenzie Schoenhardt led defensively with 20 digs and Stewart (15). Mahon had four blocks and Elli Walker three. Setter Alex Johnson had 34 assists.


Gilbert VB protects #3 ranking, sweeps #6 Campo Verde
September 28, 2021 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Gilbert High's volleyball team ended up notching a sweep of 5A San Tan Region rival and city rival Campo Verde on Tuesday night. One play on the mind of Tigers coach Joe Hesse came up quickly in a post-game chat.

Gilbert saw a 23-16 lead in the second melt to 23-21 prompting Hesse to call timeout. Hesse inserted junior hitter Ellie Schmidt, who promptly rewarded her coach with a run-stopping kill. A Sydney Mahon block followed for a 2-0 Tigers' lead in the match.

"Ellie made the play of the set," Hesse said. "She came in, did her job and that was that." Gilbert took the match by scores of 25-15, 25-21, 25-22 at Campo Verde High. The third-ranked Tigers are now 9-1 in power-ranking matches and 2-0 in region play. Campo Verde fell to 7-3, 1-2.

The Tigers weren't pressed in the opening set as Campo Verde tried to settle in to the rivalry match. Set 2 seemed more of the same as Gilbert closed in on the 25th point, but the Coyotes put together a 5-0 run to close within 23-21. Kills by Campo's Addison Haluska and Gillian Bachali plus two Campo blocks and a Gilbert hitting error made it it anyone's set. before the Tigers settled for the 2-0 advantage.

Campo Verde stayed with Gilbert in the Set 3 as the teams shared small leads through the 15-point mark. The Tigers were sharp down the stretch getting kills from five players from the 15-13 mark (Mahon, Naia Stewart, Becca King, Elli Walker and Raegan Richardson). Campo made a late run and fought off three match points before a service error finished the set and match.

"Gilbert is a better team than we are," Campo Verde coach Tayler Bader said. "We made some adjustments and they countered every time. We didn't fold after being dominated the first set. We battled."

Stewart and Mahon, 1-2 for Gilbert in kills this season, were spot on. Stewart finished with 10 kills and Mahon had eight. Setter Alex Johnson produced 29 assists. On defense freshman Richardson came up big at the net with six blocks and libero McKenzie Schoenhardt had 20 digs. 

Campo Verde stat leaders on the attack were Haluska (14 kills) and Bachali (9 kills). Libero Beigh Alexander contributed 15 digs. Setters Laurelle Lewis (15 assists an 11 digs) and Hannah Van Winkle (13 assists) ran the Coyotes' offense.

Gilbert hosts Williams Field on Wednesday and then takes a week off for fall break. Campo Verde is finished with play before fall break and the the Coyotes and Tigers return to action Oct. 12.




Gilbert vs. Paradise Valley - 08-31-2021 (azpreps 365)



Gilbert vs. Casteel - 10-12-2021 (azpreps 365)



Gilbert vs. Campo Verde - 09-28-2021 (azpreps 365)




1101 E. Elliot Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234


Thanks to Dennis Webb Photography for the thumbnail photos. Full size, high resolution photos available at www.azdewphoto.com