NORTHWEST GLENDALE — With playoffs out of the question for both the Glendale and Hoover high boys' volleyball teams, the regular season finale between the cross-town and Pacific-League rivals was the biggest match of the season for both squads.
The Tornadoes came out strong at home Tuesday and rolled to a first-game victory that Hoover co-Coach Chris Hong said boosted their confidence the rest of the way, as they narrowly avoided five games in a win over the Nitros, 25-8, 16-25, 25-23, 26-24.
"It's just a big deal [beating Glendale], it carries throughout the year in every sport," said Hong, whose team improved to 2-12, 1-11 in league. "If you beat Glendale, no matter how bad your season is at least you've got that going."
Glendale was on the verge of taking the match to a fifth game on two different occasions, but was just held off in both the third and fourth games.
"I think my kids looked over [Hoover]," said Glendale Coach Taase Mose, whose team defeated the Tornadoes, 25-9, 11-25, 26-24, 25-22, on March 30. "We beat them in that first match and we thought we were going to beat them again, but it was a different result. Hoover came out strong today and we didn't."
Hoover climbed out of a late five-point hole, 19-14, in the third game and looked to have the game wrapped up with a 24-21 lead after a 10-2 run, but consecutive errors gave Glendale (1-11 in league) new life.
Elijah Funtiveros (five kills, three blocks) ended the game with an exclamation point for the Tornadoes, as he bashed a Nitros dig attempt that sailed up to the net back onto Glendale's side of the court to put Hoover up in games, 2-1.
The fourth game, which featured eight ties, was tightly contested. Hoover matched its greatest lead of the game at 22-17 with a 4-1 run that was capped off with an ace from Jinhyuk Jang (six kills, two blocks).
Up 24-21, it looked like the game and match were once again in hand for the Tornadoes, but three straight Hoover errors tied the game at 24.
A fourth-game victory got away from Glendale just as quickly, as consecutive Glendale errors ensured Hoover's win.
"It's my last year and so far we haven't gotten a win [in league]," said Jang, a senior. "It was a really good win. It's really significant, I think I'm going to remember it for the rest of my life."
Glendale picked up its lone win in the second game, which featured eight Hoover errors.
The Nitros used a 13-4 run, which included two kills and an ace from Johnny Mercado, to take a 20-10 lead in the game and got their final four points of the game on Tornadoes errors.
Mercado finished tied with Kyle Hulguin, who also had three blocks, for a team-high six kills.
The Tornadoes won the opening game easily, as they used a 19-1 run to take a commanding 21-4 lead.
Dan Sanidad fueled Hoover in the first game, as he racked up five of his match-high nine kills in the opener.
"It felt really, really good because we've been working hard the whole year for this," Sanidad said. "This is a good way to end the season and a good way to start the next one."