Mojave takes down Del Sol in straight sets to advance to 3A state title match


Mojave’s boys volleyball team continued its dominance Tuesday on the way to the Class 3A state final.

The Rattlers made quick work of Del Sol, posting a 25-18, 25-20, 25-9 victory over the Dragons in the 3A state semifinals at Chaparral.

“We served well and got them out of rotation which is key to our success,” Mojave coach John Engel said. “They are very scrappy so they stayed around being very scrappy.”

The Rattlers (24-11) opened the second set with a sluggish start and trailed 7-2 to Del Sol (10-18) before Engel called timeout to settle his players.

Mojave responded by going on a 10-2 run and easily took the set, 25-20.

The Rattlers, who have yet to lose a set this season outside of tournaments, take on Cheyenne (19-15) in the 3A state final at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Chaparral.

“We’ve been challenged by a few teams but we seem to bounce back,” Engel said. “Deep down inside they don’t want to lose a set the entire year so that’s their motivation.”

Senior Antonyo Wright led the Rattlers with 14 kills, and junior Joseph Silva added 12 kills. Senior Juan Valdez dished out 33 assists for Mojave.

Mojave is seeking its fourth consecutive state title, and first-year coach Engel was named the Class 3A Southern League Coach of the Year following his team’s win in the semifinals.

“It’s not me, it has nothing to do with me,” Engel said. “It’s the people around me that make this all successful. To me it’s not about my personal award it’s about those kids.”

Mojave beat Cheyenne in straight sets in both meetings earlier in the season.

“We’ve seen Cheyenne twice and they’ve got a very good player in Tyler (Buchanan),” Engel said. “We’re not worried because we’re just going to come in and play our game and let the chips fall.”

Cheyenne 3, Tech 1 — The Desert Shields rebounded after dropping the third set to take down the Roadrunners, 25-13, 25-22, 19-25, 25-13 in the other semifinal.

“They’re just confident. They’re a confident set of individuals,” Cheyenne coach John Armstrong said. “They may not have started the season as confident but we’ve gained it as the season has went on.”

After dropping the potential match-winning third set, the Desert Shields came back in the fourth to lead Tech (11-8) by as many as 13 points halfway through the set.

Buchanan had 22 kills and eight service aces for Cheyenne. Junior Brian Orellana added 29 assists and 17 digs to help the Desert Shields.

“It’s been awhile since that first game (against Mojave) but in the second game we just couldn’t continue playing at the level of intensity that we needed to,” Armstrong said. “So playing at a high level of intensity for longer periods of time is what will lead us to success.”

Contact reporter Bill Slane at bslane@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4559. Follow @bill_slane on Twitter.