Sky Pointe’s defense of its 2018 Class 3A state boys volleyball title hasn’t been easy.
And it got more difficult last week.
On the eve of the playoffs, the fourth-seeded Eagles lost their starting setter and were forced to call up a replacement from their junior varsity team.
The Eagles still found a way to down top-seeded Del Sol, 25-19, 15-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-13 in a Class 3A state semifinal Tuesday at Mojave. Sky Pointe (21-16) will face Mojave (24-11) in a rematch of last year’s championship match at 5 p.m. Thursday at Mojave.
Junior middle blocker Jaegen Driscoll recorded 32 kills and had nine blocks. Driscoll has a state-record 630 kills this season, eclipsing the previous mark of 614, set by Arbor View’s Treven Clizbe in 2016.
“It feels amazing. It is a great relief to be back,” Driscoll said. “We’re missing our main setter from last year. He graduated, and everyone underestimated us and thought there was no way we were going to win state again or go back to state, and we just pushed through. We lost our other setter, so we brought up our JV setter, and we just worked super hard, long practices, stayed late, practiced all the time.”
The defending state champions had one more obstacle to overcome in their semifinal match against the Dragons as the Eagles appeared done in the fifth set.
Del Sol’s Tyrell Hampton and Alex Marin came up with timely kills to give the Dragons (24-18) a 10-6 lead in the final set.
Driscoll wasn’t ready for his season to end.
“We just rebuilt our energy,” he said. “Our libero (Jaden MacFarlane), he came out and got everything; he did great. And our setter (Jaxon Hulet), he played super smart, and he was able to set the ball where it needed to be, and he got it done.”
Of Sky Pointe’s final 12 points, Driscoll scored six (five kills, one block).
“We practice in points to five, and so everything we do has to be to five,” Sky Pointe coach Kristi Driscoll said. “And that was just what we played, to fives, and we actually ended up down. They had to dig deep and they had to pull it together, and that shows guts right there, that shows guts.”
MacFarlane had 41 digs, and Luke Mecham had five kills for the Eagles. Hulet, in just his second varsity match, dished out 33 assists.
“Jaegen and Jayden were just, they’re unstoppable with their serve-receive,” Kristi Driscoll said. “We had our JV setter come in – he’s only set for playoffs – and he did incredible.
“I really think (Jaegen) gets overlooked … because this team is scrappy, this team is young, and this team is inexperienced. It is hard to continually get 32, 33, 34 kills every night. I mean, that’s the captain of a ship if I’ve ever seen it. This team reacts to him.”
Mojave 3, Boulder City 1 — At Mojave, T.J. Blanchard-Davis had 24 kills, 12 digs and one ace as the second-seeded Rattlers down the Eagles, 25-21, 25-13, 22-25, 25-23, in the other semifinal.
Sebastian James added six kills and one block for the Rattlers, and teammate Juan Carbajal dished out 37 assists and had 10 digs.
The Rattlers jumped on the Eagles early, taking the first two sets in dominating fashion.
In the third set, the Eagles returned the favor, jumping out to a 5-0 lead, en route to a 25-22 win.
The fourth set was back-and-forth with neither team able to build more than a three-point lead.
The Rattlers eventually took a 24-23 lead after a Blanchard-Davis kill. A sideout on match point gave the Rattlers the win.
Preston Jorgensen had 25 kills to lead the Eagles (24-10).
Karson Bailey had 19 kills, Boen Huxford dished out 21 assists, Kenny Rose dished out 19 assists, and Kannon Rose had 20 digs for Boulder City.