NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Though neither the Glendale High or Hoover girls' volleyball teams will participate in the playoffs, Thursday afternoon's season-finale between the two teams had a bit of a playoff-like atmosphere.
Not wanting to end their respective seasons a minute too soon, the Nitros and Tornadoes battled for nearly two hours in their Pacific League match with pride on the line.
Glendale left Hoover's hot gymnasium with a 25-23, 20-25, 21-25, 25-17, 15-5 come-from-behind victory.
"We had faith that we could come back and win," said Glendale middle blocker April Reed, who finished with 11 kills in her fourth match back since suffering a right-ankle injury Sept. 14 that caused her to miss 10 matches. "We had that energy in the fourth and fifth games and we were able to work well together.
"We had to cover for each other."
Glendale finished 3-11 in league, while Hoover went 4-12, 3-11 in league. The teams split the two head-to-head season meetings. Hoover picked up a 19-25, 25-11, 25-16, 31-29 win on Oct. 12 at Glendale.
The Tornadoes appeared on their way to sweeping the two matches against their cross-town rival after an ace from middle blocker/outside hitter Meagan Knight gave them a 2-1 lead. It never materialized.
"We had a feeling that April would be back and play," said Hoover Coach Charles Min, who received a team-best eight kills from Knight. "That gives them momentum and you never know what the other team can do."
Reed proved to be at her best in the fifth game. The senior spearheaded a 6-0 run, highlighted by three aces, to give the Nitros a 9-3 advantage.
In the fourth game, Glendale held a 19-14 lead. However, Hoover pulled to within 19-17 on an ace from Ghazarian. The Nitros then evened the match by going on a 6-0 run.
Hoover, which received 24 assists from setter Andrea Ghazarian and seven kills from outside hitter April Melgar, led throughout the entire third game. It rallied from a 16-13 deficit in the second game, capped by a kill and ace from Knight.
Glendale overcame a 19-18 deficit in the first game by closing out with a 7-4 run.
"We came back stronger and that helped us prove we could win," said Reed, who saw teammate Ninette Mirzakhanian finish with 27 assists and seven kills.
Min said the Tornadoes entered the season with some goals, which included an appearance in the postseason.
"I asked them for a lot and we did have some high goals," Min said. "We could have done a lot better.
"We hit a couple of bumps in the road and we never really recovered. You win some and you lose some."