Gilbert's Elli Walker (3) attacks the block of Xavier Prep's Finley Workman (13) and Elle  McCreery (12) in recent match.

#3 Gilbert avenges losses to #12 Highland
October 26, 2022 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

#3 Gilbert got a third chance on Wednesday night at defeating its longest rival #12 Highland this season. The Tigers lost an invitational match to the Hawks the first week of September and a week ago bowed in five sets in the more critical region and power-ranking match.

The third meeting met with the desired result for Gilbert as the Tigers triumphed in four close sets. Scores were 25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22 at The Jungle. It was the final regular-season match for both schools. The 6A state tournament begins next week.

Gilbert finishes the regular season 25-7 overall, 14-3 in power-ranking matches and 7-3 in the Central Region. That mark is good for second place in the region behind #1 and unbeaten Corona del Sol (17-0 prm). Highand finished 21-14-3 overall, 9-8 prm and 4-6 in region. Gilbert has qualified for state not needing a play-in match by virtue of a top-eight finish. The Tigers host a first-round playoff game on Nov. 3 against an opponent to be determined. Highland will host a play-in game to state on Nov. 1 against an opponent to be determined.

Gilbert's attack was paced by its senior-laden lineup. Outside hitter Becca King was tops unofficially with 16 kills, followed by middle Sydney Mahon and the lone non-senior, sophomore hitter Raegan Richardson with 11 kills each. Middle Andi Nothdurft added 7 kills. Highland was led offensively by hitter Zoe John (16 kills), opposite Kylie Helm (7 kills) and middle hitter Jewel Carling (6 kills).

In winning Gilbert led nearly the entire match regardless of set. The Tigers never trailed in the first set, were behind a couple points early in the second set and its largest deficit of the evening was three points in Highland's third set win. They finished leading start to finish in the fourth.

It took a 4-0 Gilbert run to finish the first set. Down 22-21 the Tigers got kills from King, Richardson and Mahon. The final point was a King ace. Coming up big for Gilbert to close the second set from a 22-all tie were a pair of kills from Nothdurft and a block by Richardson. Gilbert's win in the fourth set briefly looked easier than the others. The Tigers led 24-19, but Highland reeled off three consecutive kills - two by John and one by Caroline Munson. A Highland attack error closed the set and match.


Corona outlasts Gilbert, claims region title 
October 20, 2022 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

For the second time in a week 6A #1 Corona del Sol's volleyball team had its unbeaten power-ranking match record challenged. Last week it was Xavier Prep. On Thursday it was 6A Central Region rival and #5 Gilbert pushing the Aztecs to five sets.

Corona again rose to the occasion in the decisive set with a 15-6 triumph. It was the same tally it turned away Xavier by in the fifth set on Oct. 12. Scores of Thursday's battle with Gilbert were 18-25, 25-23, 25-16, 20-25, 15-6.

Corona's record in power-ranking matches improved to 15-0 overall, 8-0 in region and with the winthe Aztecs clinched the Central Region crown for the second year in a row. The Aztecs also extended their region-match winning streak to 18 in that span. Gilbert, playing its fourth match in as many days, is 12-3 overall prm and 5-3 region. The Tigers were 2-2 this week with an emotional loss to sister-school Highland on Wednesday in five sets.

A varied, powerful attack is Corona's calling card. In the fifth set the Aztecs landed four kills (Alyssa Aguayo two and one each from Kierstyn Barton and Maggie Beauer). Three aces also helped - one each from Julia Owens, Barton and Beauer.

Four Corona players finished in double digits in kills. Barton led with 17. Ella Lomigora and Beauer produced 11 kills apiece and sophomore Aguayo chipped in 10. Setter Owens was busy registering 50 assists. Libero Erin Clark led defensively with 17 digs and Barton contributed 14. Lomigora was strong at the net with nine blocks. Three Gilbert players unofficially reached double figures in kills - Sydney Mahon (12) and Andi Nothdurft and Becca King (11 apiece).

Gilbert used a 7-1 finish in the first set to prevail. The Tigers seemed on the way to a taking the second set, amassing a 15-8 lead. Corona, however, stepped up in all phases to eke out a win. The third set was nearly all Corona with Gilbert's only lead at 2-1. Gilbert forced the fifth set snapping a 17-all tie with a strong finish with kills from King, Mahon and Nothdurft.

Gilbert Tigers scratch and claw their way to 3-1 victory over Sunnyslope
Aaron Decker, Tribune Contributing Writer Sep 15, 2022
Leading 26-25 in the fourth set, the Gilbert High School girls volleyball team were one point away from victory.

Following the serve, the twirling white volleyball drifted toward sophomore Raegan Richardson who sent the ball over the net, past the diving opponents, and straight into glossy court. The Gilbert varsity girls volleyball team screamed in excitement, hugging each other in celebration of their 3-1 defeat over the Sunnyslope Vikings.

“I just felt like to give my all no matter what, just not even play scared or anything. Just go up there and swing,” said Richardson.

The Tigers (6-0) defeat over the Vikings (2-3) ends a lengthy four game losing  streak to Sunnyslope, dating back to 2019.

Tigers have claws for a reason and the Gilbert Tigers used them on Wednesday night inside the Sunnyslope gymnasium. After falling 25-19 in the first set, Gilbert rallied back to win three consecutive sets.

“The energy was low at first but I feel at the end we all came together as a team, which kind of brought everybody up together,” Richardson said.

The rally came in large part to a mixture of high energy, timely blocking, and a never quit attitude.

“We scramble and scratch and claw,” head coach Joe Hesse said. “We can’t line up and punch and counter punch. It takes us more than one swing to score a point so we played well defensively.”

Throughout the four sets, both teams exchanged the lead 32 times and were tied on 31 occasions. The two squads were evenly matched as on multiple occasions the players torpedoed the ball to the opponent on lengthy back and forth plays.

Gilbert's never-give-up attitude was on full display in the final set when they trailed 21-24 to the Vikings. With the match point on the line, the Tigers withstood defeat by scoring three straight points. Vikings head coach Amber LeTarte called a timeout, allowing Hesse to huddle his team

“Those moments...it’s more of a relaxation, calming kind of thing,” Hesse said. “We had a few things we were kicking on them a bit and our gameplan, we needed to stick to it.”

Tied 24-24, a crucial moment occurred when the Vikings sent the ball over the net and onto the court, seemingly putting them ahead by a point. As the Vikings celebrated the Tigers exclaimed that the ball was out of bounds which the official ruled was the case.

The Tigers had the lead for the first time since an 18-17 lead.

The journey to victory wasn’t over yet, as the Vikings quickly tied the game. A serve from Sunnyslopes Gergei Stein sailed out of bounds and redirected the momentum back toward Gilbert which they capitalized on with Richardsons kill. In the final set Richardson scored on two crucial moments.

Richardson finished the game with a team-high 18 Kills, averaging 4.5 a set.
Gilbert was dominant at times. In the second set the Tigers led the entire way, ultimately winning the set 25-18.

The Tigers Libero, McKenzie Schoenhardt leads the state in digs with 315 and
showcased her agility on Wednesday. On multiple occasions Schoenhardt kept the volley alive with outstretched dives and powerful passes, ending the night with 36 digs.

The victory over Sunnyslope is the first time the Tigers have defeated the Vikings since 2019. The Vikings have been a formidable team, winning multiple state championships in the last decade.

The added number in the win column is nice but this victory was extra sweet for the Tigers. Gilbert entered the 6A conference this year, meaning higher level competition. A win against Sunnyslope was a sign the team could compete in this conference.

“It means a lot because, for us to be able to play a high level team, high level volleyball, it just means we can play up to anybody's level so I think that was really big for us in how we prove ourselves,” Schoenhardt said.

Campo Verde falls to Gilbert in straight sets

September 8, 2022 by Kaneyl Carpenter, Arizona State University
The Campo Verde volleyball team lost 3-0 to the Gilbert Tigers on Thursday night.

The Campo Verde Coyotes had a rough start right out of the gate. The Tigers went on a 3-0 point run to start and after the Coyotes first scored, the Tigers went on another 3-0 run. It was up to the Coyotes to make a comeback.

“The beginning was kind of rough, our energy just was not really there,” said Gillian Bachali, a senior outside hitter for the Coyotes.

Gilbert won the first set easily, 25-14.

The start of the second set didn’t seem promising when the Tigers hit it hard with a 6-0 run. Eventually, the Coyotes got the ball back and went on their own run of 7-0. Then from there, it was a back-and-forth battle of runs.

“We could have rolled over and died the first set, the second set they came back and fought hard. They (Gilbert) wanted it just as bad as we did," Coyote Coach Nui Rubin said.

The Tigers took the second set, 25-20.

Going into the third set, the Coyotes were fired up, wanting to take a set from the Tigers for the first time since the 2019-2020 volleyball season.

The Coyotes started the third set with a kill on their first possession. From there, the Tigers responded with a kill. And it was a battle from there.

“Towards the end, we started picking up on what was open on their end of the court. And what works best on our side of the court also," said Cambry Wolynia, a senior opposite hitter.

In the end, the Coyotes couldn't take down the Tigers or get their coveted set. The score of the final set was 25-23, Tigers.

“We played pretty well against Gilbert, that's the highest number of points we’ve ever scored on Gilbert so I think that was a good match," Wolynia said.

When looking forward to their next games, Rubin says that they have many plans for improvement, starting with their defensive attack.

“We can work better on our defense and our blocks. There are a lot of faster offenses out there right now and we can be better at getting there in time,” Rubin said.

Gilbert Volleyball tops Xavier Prep

August 31, 2022 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365
Gilbert and Xavier Prep volleyball have played often over the years. Xavier has dominated in recent times, but that hasn't stopped Gilbert coach Joe Hesse from wanting to play Xavier.

Over the last 15 years prior to Wednesday night, Xavier had won 27 of 31 matches either in regular-season contests or invitationals. That included the last nine meetings dating back seven years ago.

Gilbert put an end to that streak in front of its fans at the Jungle. The Tigers prevailed in four sets, 25-16, 25-10, 25-27, 25-19.

"It's good to get our rivalry going again," Hesse said. "We've had a lot of good matches with them, but hadn't beaten them in a while before tonight."

Gilbert improved to 2-0 as it returns to 6A after four seasons in 5A. Xavier dipped to 0-2. Xavier graduated a slew of veteran players/starters last year, so coach Lamar-Renee Bryant is looking to be patient - at least early.

Leading Gilbert on the attack in its first home match of the season were Raegan Richardson, Sydney Mahon and Cameron Bales. Richardson, a sophomore, posted 20 kills. Senior Mahon was next with 13 and soph Bales finished with 12. For the match Gilbert piled up 57 kills.

Topping Xavier on offense were Camila Cornejo-Farmer (7 kills), Ava Larkin (5 kills) and Elle McCreery (4 kills). On defense Mei Prieto paced the digs chart with 19 and Larkin added nine.

Gilbert plays its third match in as many days Thursday visiting Maricopa. The Tigers move on Friday and Saturday to compete in the House of Payne Invite at Chandler High. Xavier resumes regular-season play on Sept. 6 hosting Cesar Chavez.




1101 E. Elliot Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234