As Tyler Buchanan goes, so goes Cheyenne’s volleyball team.
On Thursday night, the senior helped lead the No. 2 seed Desert Shields into the Class 3A state semifinals with a 25-18, 25-12, 25-15 sweep of No. 7 Chaparral.
“He is definitely our impact player,” Cheyenne head coach John Armstrong said. “He brings a great level of intensity to our team. Our guys definitely feed off him. He’s our captain, and he definitely shows it.”
Buchanan finished the match with 10 kills and four aces. He ended the second set with a kill shot, and his service ace in the third set ended the match. Brian Orellana dished out 19 assists and had three aces, while E.J. Yearby had four aces and 11 digs for the Desert Shields (18-15).
“It makes me feel proud knowing that they kind of depend on me,” Buchanan said. “I don’t want to say it, but they kind of do. It just feels good. You know your team, so it feels good that we’re all working together so I can get that feeling.”
It has been three years since Cheyenne has been in the playoffs, but the Desert Shields didn’t seemed fazed by the intensity of the moment, despite the Cowboys jumping out to early leads of 3-0 and 9-7 in the first set.
“We stayed consistent and we just kept on pushing,” Buchanan said. “We had the consistency and mentality to not give up today. We played a good game.”
Cheyenne rode out the Cowboys’ quick start, and took control of the match by aggressively attacking the net. The Desert Shields rallied for five consecutive points to take the lead in the first set, and were never really threatened again.
The next – and final – time the Cowboys (4-14) would lead in the match would be 1-0 in the third set.
“We played with confidence and kept up the tempo like we wanted to,” Armstrong said. “Actually I think we handled the pressure really well. It’s the first time we’ve been in the playoffs in a while, and we came out wanting it and ready to fight, no matter who the opponent was going to be.”
Ben Kirschbaum and Sam Realica each had eight kills to lead the Cowboys.
The Desert Shields will face Tech (11-7) in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Chaparral. The winner plays for the Class 3A state title at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Chaparral against the winner of the Del Sol (10-17) and Mojave (23-11).
Tech 3, Sunrise Mountain 0 — At Cheyenne, Gary Johnson had six kills to lead the Roadrunners to 25-17, 25-15, 25-15 sweep of the Miners.
Haakon Hunsaker had five kills, and Collin Fought added 13 assists, two aces and eight digs for the third-seeded Roadrunners.
Mojave 3, Desert Pines 0 — At Mojave, Joseph Silva had nine kills as the top-seeded Rattlers breezed by the eighth-seeded Jaguars, 25-8, 25-5, 25-13.
Juan Valdez dished out 21 assists, and Antonyo Wright had six kills for Mojave (23-11), which will face Del Sol (10-17) in a state semifinal at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Chaparral.
Leonel Rincon had three kills for Desert Pines (0-18).
Del Sol 3, Western 0 — At Mojave, Alan Ramos-Flores supplied 22 assists in the Dragons’ 25-22, 25-18, 25-17 win over the Warriors.
Nathaniel Barton had 10 kills, and Van Stanley added six kills for Del Sol.
Western’s Leonel Acosta-Trevizo notched 17 assists, and teammate Anthony Dodson contributed 10 kills and five blocks.