Palo Verde knew the road to a Sunset Region boys volleyball title would be rugged.
The Panthers faced a road match at Bonanza in the quarterfinals, previously undefeated Shadow Ridge in the semifinals and 2008 state runner-up Centennial in the finals.
Check, check and check.
Palo Verde clinched its second straight Sunset title with a 17-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-19 win over Centennial on Friday night at Sierra Vista.
“It’s been a heck of a week, a good run for us,” Panthers coach Phil Clarke said. “We start out with Bonanza in their gym, which is always a tough place to play, and then Shadow Ridge.
“But we knew, and it might have been the 15 of us, we knew if we played our game we could do it.”
Palo Verde (18-5) clinched the Sunset’s No. 1 seed for the state tournament. The Panthers will play Sunrise No. 2 Las Vegas (18-5) in a state semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Sierra Vista.
Centennial (17-6) will play Sunrise champion Coronado (21-1) in the other semifinal at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Matt Lish had 31 assists and eight digs for Palo Verde. Tyler Capko had 16 kills and five aces, and Shaun Carroll and Andrew Topham added seven kills each.
“They’re really stepping up,” Lish said of his teammates. “All of us are just playing together as a team.”
Lish said the Panthers rebounded from the loss in the first game thanks to an attitude adjustment.
“We weren’t losing,” he said. “We just got it in our heads that we weren’t going to lose.”
Palo Verde responded by jumping to a 13-6 lead in the second game and 16-8 in the third.
Jeff Mecham had 31 assists and Tyler McAninch 11 kills for Centennial. Drew Staker tallied 10 kills and three blocks, Matt Kurtz added five kills and Kyle Moody six digs.
As if leading his team to a perfect run through the Sunrise Region boys volleyball tournament wasn’t enough, Eric Boman was named Southeast League Most Valuable Player on Friday.
But Coronado’s senior outside hitter didn’t much want to talk about either accolade. He’s only thinking about the state tournament.
Coronado swept Las Vegas 25-18, 25-18, 25-14 at Sierra Vista to win its second straight region title. The Cougars swept all three of their matches at the tournament.
“It feels good, but we know we’ve got unfinished business,” Boman said. “We’ve got to win the next two.”
Coronado won last year’s region final over Las Vegas, 3-1, only to watch Las Vegas win state the following week.
“They are harboring that feeling from last year and they don’t want that same feeling again,” Coronado coach Brock Mitchell said. “They realize that this is their chance. If any year, this is the year.”
Seeded No. 1 from the Southeast, the Cougars never trailed against the Northeast No. 1 Wildcats.
Boman had 11 kills, two digs and two aces for Coronado, which closed the first game on a 9-2 run and the third on a 16-6 surge. He said the Cougars raised their focus in comparison to a 3-2 loss at Las Vegas in the regular season.
“We were way more focused,” Boman said. “We lost to these guys in the regular season and we weren’t going to lose to them again.”
Chris Austin contributed 15 assists, eight kills, five digs and three blocks for the Cougars. Hunter Chaney had 17 assists and eight digs, and Bryan Arana added five digs and four kills.
Las Vegas coach Sue Thurman said her team “didn’t have a lot of fire.”
“We came out flat,” she said. “Coronado played great. They were definitely in it to win it.
“We’d fight back and get one or two points away, and they’d go on a run.”
Northeast MVP Danny Farias led Las Vegas with 25 assists and eight digs. Braeden Wilson had 14 digs and eight kills, and Aaron Hansen added eight digs and seven kills.