Phoenix Greenway senior outside hitter Sadie Anderson put it simply — she didn’t think her team would be where it is now: 31-0.
“I don’t think anyone was expecting this,” she said.
Yet her team now enters the home stretch of its season undefeated and atop Division III behind Anderson’s 199 kills and 117 digs.
Greenway, led by head coach Sarah Peterson, has been among the surprise teams in a wide-open Division III that features more than 80 programs.
Greenway sits at the top of the division in azcentral sports’ power rankings, using their stretch of dominance to insert themselves into the championship picture. In fact, Greenway has lost just three sets all season thus far.
Peterson’s success has been largely dependent on her two stars — Anderson and fellow captain Jordyn Nelson.
“Last year was definitely the Sadie and Jordyn show,” Peterson said.
Peterson said the biggest difference has been in the development of her two captains, notably Nelson.
“(Jordyn) very quietly has taken control of this team and of our offense like no other high school setter I’ve seen,” Peterson said.
Nelson has compiled 175 digs and a team-high 79 assists this season.
Nelson said the biggest difference in her game has been her confidence as a setter on the court.
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“We weren’t expecting to do so well but I knew we had a team that was very, very compatible,” Nelson said. “We’re definitely more confident even though we’re younger.”
Senior transfer student Julisa Carrizosa, who currently leads the team with 248 kills and has added 141 digs, has helped take the pressure off Nelson and Anderson.
“She was a huge addition to the team,” Peterson said. “Both offensively and defensively, she plays with this huge heart and huge personality on the court.”
Carrizosa is just one of two seniors, along with Anderson, on the roster and has been a major boost to the team’s morale.
“She’s very outgoing,” Nelson joked. “You wouldn’t even understand.”
Greenway’s competition isn’t too far behind, though, as No. 2 Buckeye Verrado has gotten off to a 26-0 start of its own.
“They are very comparable to us,” Peterson said of Verrado. “I think we both have great defenses, both have great setters who can different offenses. I can’t wait to play them (on Oct. 22).”
Nelson said Greenway has its eye on Verrado, but their main focus is on themselves first.
“We’ve looked at MaxPreps a couple times, but it’s a lot more of us focusing on our court,” Nelson said.
Peterson said the toughest challenge for her team is staying focused.
“It would be great to go undefeated, but that’s not necessarily our goal,” Peterson said. “We have not made it past the first round of state for the last couple years, and right now it’s just one step at a time.”
Anderson reiterated the team’s focus, as Greenway is poised for one of the best runs in school history.
“We’re obviously looking at state — that’s the end game,” Anderson said. “Obviously you want to stay undefeated as long as possible, but we won’t get stuck on it.”