Palo Verde’s boys volleyball team walked into the Centennial gym Thursday afternoon expecting to win. But the Panthers could not have expected to win in the fashion they did.
After a rocky start in division play, Palo Verde continued its recent turnaround with a 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 win over the Bulldogs. It was the third consecutive Northwest League victory for the Panthers (19-5, 3-3 Northwest).
Palo Verde coach Phil Clarke said he had no expectations of sweeping Centennial, especially after his team dropped a five-set match to the Bulldogs on March 28.
“We were just hoping to play better than we did the last time against them, which was only about three weeks ago,” He said. “So we just hoped, the second time around, to improve. We definitely weren’t expecting this. We were just trying to get even with them a little bit.”
The difference Thursday was some less-than-crisp play from Centennial (25-8, 4-2), especially in key moments.
“We’ll take it,” Clarke said. “Part of it was they were a little off, but at the same time our guys were able to do a good job of taking advantage of their mistakes tonight.”
Centennial jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the first set, but Palo Verde rallied for a 25-22 win.
In the second set, despite not creating a lot of separation, the Panthers pulled away late for a 25-19 set win.
“I don’t think we went on any big runs, but we just went a couple points here and a couple points there,” Clarke said. “It was just the start of that second set was probably the biggest thing for us.”
Palo Verde controlled the third set and forced Centennial to play from behind and eventually clinched the shutout.
“We always have trouble coming to Centennial, so to do it in three (sets) is really a credit to our guys,” Clarke said. “Our big thing is to make them earn whatever they get. We’re going to have errors, it’s going to happen. But just be in every point, make them earn it and don’t give up on anything.”
Senior Grant Tingey led the Panthers with 10 kills, two digs and two blocks. Kainoa Villa had 18 assists and five digs, while Haden Van Orden had 14 assists and three digs for Palo Verde.
“This is one of the older teams we’ve hadand the seniors and the captains, in particular, it starts with them,” Clarke said. “Even when we were struggling a little bit they were still positive and still fighting.”
Kade Frischknecht led Centennial with 12 kills. Justin Madsen added five kills, one ace and eight digs, and Sam Belnap had 19 assists for the Bulldogs, who also got two aces and 17 digs from Braedon Tarone.