SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — After both teams took turns ripping each other by 16 and 14 points, respectively, in the first two games, it was hard to get a bead on just who was in control of Friday's Pacific League boys' volleyball rivalry match between Hoover High and host Glendale.
Control of the next two games switched hands incessantly, but in the end the Nitros came out on the right side of both to notch a 25-9, 11-25, 26-24, 25-22 win in the resumption of the rivalry after the Tornadoes program took a one-year hiatus last season.
"We missed playing our rival school, that game is really fun," said Glendale outside hitter Josh Collado, whose team picked up its first league win to improve to 1-4. "It's good that we got to play them this year. All the excitement builds up."
The fourth game was back and forth and separated by no more than a couple points throughout, before Collado gave the Nitros a 23-20 lead with three consecutive aces. Kyle Hulguin and Victor Bernardino combined on a block to set up match point and Collado's ensuing serve was a near ace when it was deflected high into the rafters by the Tornadoes' serve-receive. But Hoover got the ball back over the net and won the point, as well as the next one, to put a little more heat on the Nitros before finally succumbing.
"We're still maturing, we have to learn how to play when it's close," said Hoover co-Coach Chris Hong, whose team fell to 0-5 overall and in league. "They got really excited and then they kind of tensed up. Glendale did a good job. They played steady, they didn't make any errors. You've got to credit Glendale for the win and hopefully next time will be a different result."
Hoover was able to rally from a numbing first-game defeat, in which Glendale's Stephen Gu's 10-point service run blew the game open at 20-7.
In the second game, it was Hoover's Marc Fuentes putting on a serving clinic of his own, rattling off 10 straight points of his own in a run that included four aces and individual kills from John Tranquena and Dan Sanidad and put Hoover up, 11-3.
Tranquena's serve came up again with Hoover leading, 18-9, and he notched another three aces in a row to hasten the victory.
Glendale enjoyed a narrow lead for the majority of the pivotal third game until Hoover pulled back even at 21 with Derek Delacruz serving. Ryan Kovarik wrested the lead back for Glendale at 22-21 with a kill, only for the Nitros to see Hoover knot the game again at 23 on a Christian Pacificador kill and take a 24-23 lead before giving the game to Glendale on two straight passing and one hitting error.
"We had to make sure that we didn't make any mistakes, keep our serves in and make some hard plays," Collado said.