The Desert Vista Thunder volleyball team’s spikes might as well been lightning strikes in their second round playoff win over Mountain Pointe. They played with a ferocity that is tough to match. Mix that with a talented roster that seen seen it’s share of big matches, and you can see why they’re the top seed in Division-I.
Many of the players will be playing collegiately, including senior setter Jenna Tunnell who will play at Pepperdine, and 6’8″ junior middle blocker Rachael Kramer, who has committed to the Florida Gators.
With so many on the roster already committed to play collegiately, it shows the roster is filled with talent. It can also provide some piece of mind. Kramer, who still has a full season ahead of her after this year, says having her college decision out of the way has helped her focus on the Thunder’s games and becoming the best volleyball player possible.
“I keep focusing on getting better. Now that I know where I’m going, I keep talking to my coaches before I get there so I can start out my freshman year strong.”
Tunnell was also named to the Under Armour Girls High School All-America team, and senior Maggie Byrne-Quinn was an honorable mention. This talented roster features seven seniors and 11 returners in total.
“I think right now, they are playing with comfortable confidence. They’re seasoned. So it’s really nice,” Desert Vista head volleyball coach Molly West said.
“We’re really, really fortunate to have the girls that we do. We have like three at every position that can do just as good of a job as the next girl,” Tunnell said. “It’s really nice to be able to switch lineups up if things are going wrong or just to change it up.”
Options are a luxury Desert Vista has as they navigate a tough Division-I bracket with second-seeded Hamilton, third-seeded Xavier, and fifth-seeded Basha remaining in the Thunder’s way.
“They’re going to have to get through some adversity because it’s going to get tougher as we get deeper,” West said. “I expect some war. There are some good teams that are still in this.”
No matter how things shake out for the remainder of the playoffs, this will be a special year for West. She notched career win #500 after defeating Mountain Ridge in the opening round of the playoffs, but forgive West if she isn’t content with that.
“It made me think back to all the kids who have come through the program after all these years. It was pretty special,” West said. “I think at this point, though, 500 was sweet, but I really want 503”.
The Thunder continue their quest for a state championship as they take on fifth-seeded Basha on Saturday in the semifinals at a chance to play for the elusive win #503.