Led by a strong attack from Mesa Rohrer, Valdez overcame a first-set loss to capture the Class 3A state volleyball championship Saturday with a four-set win over Monroe at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The Buccaneers triumphed 24-26, 25-18, 25-18, 25-20 to return to the top of 3A volleyball for the first time since winning four straight state crowns from 2001-04.
"It feels so good," said Rohrer, who earned the tournament's outstanding hitter award and was named to the all-tournament team.
Valdez was primed to win the first set with set-point and a 24-20 lead, but Monroe rattled off six straight points to grab a 26-24 win.
The Rams carried their momentum into the second set, taking a 11-8 advantage on strong attacking by a pair of diminutive outside hitters – 5-foot-6 Clara Cox and 5-5 Kianna King.
The Buccaneers found their rhythm with nine straight points on the serving strength of setter Madison Fleming. Valdez won the set and never looked back.
Rohrer, who plays both outside hitter and middle blocker, said Monroe's first-set victory put the Buccaneers on edge.
"At first I was pretty rattled and very nervous and I had to shake off the adrenaline and kind of handle it -- we all did," she said.
"… We went undefeated through the whole thing so it was upsetting that we lost the first (set) and got down on ourselves, but once we started doing good in the second (set), we came through."
The match was the second of the tournament between Valdez and Monroe. Valdez beat the Rams in three sets in Friday's semifinal match, and the Rams came back through the losers' bracket Saturday by beating defending state champion Mt. Edgecumbe in a five-set thriller.
Joining Rohrer on the all-tournament for Valdez were Fleming and outside hitter/defensive specialist Zoe Langseth.
Outside hitter — Kianna King, Monroe Catholic; Payton Weisz, Mt. Edgecumbe; Zoe Langseth, Valdez; Annie Vanderweide, Grace Christian
Middle blocker — Cassidy Kramer, Kotzebue; Alexis Quick, ACS; Mesa Rorher, Valdez
Setter — Zhayne White, Mt. Edgecumbe; Tanner Ealum, ACS; Madison Fleming, Valdez; Giselle Hollaus, Monroe Catholic
Libero — Bridget Broderick, Grace Christian