Valley View’s seventh consecutive volleyball state title doesn’t come easy

By Jeff Halpern | Photos by Tommy Land

HOT SPRINGS — The seventh consecutive state title for the Valley View Blazers came the hard way.

The Blazers (35-3), who won the first two sets 25-13, 25-14 over Brookland (25-11) in the Class 4A state championship match at Bank OZK Arena, had to overcome deficits of 5-0, 8-2 and 14-7 before winning 25-23.

“I’m a little stumped,” said Valley View coach Margie McGee. “I don’t know what to say.

“I knew after winning the first two games that the third one was going to be a hard one because their backs were to the wall, and they weren’t going to give up. I think we had some jitters because we were up 2-0.

“This makes it too emotional knowing you got every bit out of everyone today.”

Trailing 14-7 in the third set, the Blazers went on a 10-3 run to tie it at 17-17 with Alexandra Gibson getting 2 kills, state tournament MVP Natalie Supine getting 2 of her 10 kills and Hadeden Lieblong also getting 2 kills. 

After Brookland took a 20-18 lead, Valley View went on a 4-2 spurt to tie the match 22-22. Chloe Rodriguez’s serve went long putting the Blazers up 23-22, Supine had a kill to make it 24-22. After a block error got Brookland to 24-23, Lieblong had the final kill to make it 25-23 setting off a celebration on the court.

“That third set, our backs were to the wall and I told them what we needed to do,” said Brookland Coach Nancy Rodriguez. “We came out a little tight in the first two sets and didn’t attack very well.

“Valley View showed what makes them so special. They are so well prepared.”

Supine, who had 10 kills, 3 blocks and hit .400 to win MVP honors, said. “I wouldn’t trade this for anything. This was special knowing we had to dig deep and had to put it all together with hard work. Winning doesn’t get old.”

In addition to Supine, Morghan Weaver had 10 kills. Micah McMillan had 21 assists, 12 digs and 5 kills. Lieblong had 3 aces, 9 kills, 2 blocks, 11 assists and 7 digs.

“I wore a T-shirt that said, ‘family’ and I keep stressing that because we work so hard together, and we have great support from all of our fans and family members because we’re all in this together.”

Despite the loss, Rodriguez was pleased with the way her team advanced to the finals. 

“For them to do what they did, this was a great year. We had three seniors, two juniors and one freshman. I’m super excited about our future especially when you see how we banded together and worked hard,” she said.

SBLive Sports is the official digital content partner of the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA).

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