Mesa, AZ - No sweeter feeling in the world than knowing you've just won a championship. That's exactly what the #12 Mesa Thunderbirds did Saturday night as they captured the Region I/ACCAC DII Tournament Championship by sweeping the #10 Scottsdale Artichokes, 25-20, 25-15, 25-20.
It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, most championships aren't. But Mesa won when they had to and that's all that matters.
"The girls talked about the one thing that needed to change and that was playing together and playing as a family," said Coach Taylor.
In the 4 pm match, Scottsdale defeated the T-Birds in four sets, leaving it to a winner-take-all scenario. The first set in the championship started with Mesa jumping out the gates quickly, jumping out to a 9-3 advantage. Mesa carried that lead throughout, going up 17-8 and finishing off the set, 25-20.
It was all T-Birds again in set two, starting with a quick 8-3 advantage and forcing the Artichoke to call an early timeout. Mesa went ahead 14-8 which caused another Artichoke timeout. From there, Mesa kept pounding the kills from the outside and took set two, 25-15.
Things kept close in the third set early, as each team shared a 10 point tie. Mesa however went on a 7-1 run to take a commanding 17-11 lead. Mesa stretched it to 23-17 and closed it out with a 25-20 victory, punching their ticket to the NJCAA National Tournament for the first time in 37 years.
"I'm extremely proud of how hard these girls worked tonight," said Head Coach Megan Taylor, "this is a long tournament and the girls showed mental toughness and fight, especially after having lost the first match earlier in the day."
The T-Birds will enter the National Tournament with a 22-9 overall record. Tournament play begins November 17-19th in Charleston, West Virginia. Seedings and brackets will be released within the next couple days, check back for updates.
"We felt the love and support from the fans from the very first match and we want to thank them, " said Coach Taylor.