Emma Swartz

Junior Emma Swartz sets during a Greenway Demons volleyball match.

Each Greenway High volleyball player had a pair of ribbons on their shoes in the team’s 3-2 senior night victory over Thunderbird High. The defending 4A state champions had a motto on each foot.

One ribbon read “212 degrees,” referring to the boiling temperature of water, inspiring the players to try just a little more on each play.

“This tells them to give that extra one degree of effort. That’s what makes the difference,” Peterson said.

The ribbon on the other foot honors Peterson’s father, who passed away midway through the season.

Peterson missed several practices and team activities afterward, but the team kept chugging along in her stead. The players described her father as a fan of the team, and come the start of the playoffs on November 5, they will be playing in his honor.

“It gives us more of a reason to win. His wish was to see us win another state championship, so we’re trying to do that for him,” junior Emma Swartz said.

In order to do so, though, the team would need to replace the production of several top defenders that graduated from the 2018 squad. That aspect of play has always been the team’s strength, and Peterson was unsure how new girls would fill in at first.

The Demons knew they would have quality hitters, who can rack up kills and big swings on important points. But, defense is surprisingly an asset for the 2019 team now.

“It’s great, because you see the other team getting frustrated, and then they try to do too much, and they can make mistakes,” said senior Megan Mattingly.

After their season opener at Flagstaff High was postponed, the Demons were tested right away against some of Arizona’s best competition in the Chandler House of Payne Tournament. The 4A group battled against several 5A and 6A schools, even winning a few matches. Peterson said the results came from quality defense and quickly-built team chemistry.

“We just stepped up and they played really well. We had some great matches against some tough and big schools, and I just realized that we can do this,” Peterson said.

That momentum carried all throughout the regular season. The Demons ended the season with five consecutive wins – four of them in road matches – and have high hopes for however long they can extend the 2019 campaign.

With the postseason looming, the girls are looking to make another long run, both in the remembrance of one of their biggest supporters, and for one final moment to celebrate together.

“It’s hard to find girls who are able to win even one, but even less who win two,” said Mattingly. “So it would be an accomplishment that kind of puts everything together and proves what we’ve been trying to do.”