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Class 4A: Coronado, Palo Verde to vie for state title

Setter Alex White knew Coronado’s boys volleyball team would be “good” ahead of his senior season. He didn’t know the Cougars would go undefeated in league play. Or win the Desert Region tournament.

Or advance to the Class 4A state championship.

Coronado rallied Tuesday night after a first-set loss for a 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-22 victory over Arbor View in the Class 4A state semifinals at Basic. The Cougars (32-11) advance to the Class 4A state championship match, where they await Palo Verde.

“I didn’t think we were going to be able to take it (this far),” White said. “It was super intense in the first set … We had to bounce back and fight harder than ever to win. It’s just grit. That’s all it is. Just grit.”

Coronado was indeed sloppy in the opening set, and made several unforced errors amid brilliant play by Arbor View. Cougars coach Matt Johnson said his players were “too jacked” at the beginning of the match. But they settled in for the second set en route to a clinical victory.

White facilitated Coronado’s attack, finishing with 45 assists and six blocks. Hitters Jacob Ceci and Randy Cowles finished rallies, and had 21 and 12 kills, respectively.

The Cougars stormed out to a 20-14 advantage in the final set. But Arbor View, chock full of seniors, pulled within two points before Ceci ended the match with a kill.

Gideon Belnap led Arbor View (33-7) with 23 kills, while Max Senior had 36 assists and 13 digs.

“We came here tonight to let everybody know that we belong here,” Johnson said. “We play in just as strong a league as everybody else. We were the No. 1 seed on our side, but we played like underdogs. We played like we had something to prove tonight.”

Palo Verde 3, Foothill 0 — Phil Clarke coached Palo Verde’s girls volleyball team to the Class 4A state tournament in the fall.

He has the Panthers’ boys volleyball team one win away from a state championship in the spring.

The Panthers (36-3) cruised to a 25-19, 25-17, 25-19 win over Foothill in the other semifinal to clinch a berth in the state championship match for the second time in three seasons.

“It’s really kind of one big program,” Clarke said of the school’s recent success. “The guys help out the girls, the girls come out to (help the boys). It kind of goes both ways. They have each other’s support. They’re definitely each other’s biggest fans. It makes it awesome.”

Clarke has established a winning culture within both programs and said a state championship was atop a list of goals to start the season. They welcomed back Pepperdine signee Scott Solan, who sat out last season, and haven’t lost to a local team this season.

Solan and Jared Brady had 12 kills apiece, and Cooper Jarman had 29 assists, four aces and six blocks.

Jace Roquemore, Brock Weaver and Caleb Stearman each had five kills for the Falcons (25-16).

“We have high goals and high expectations,” Clarke said. “We’re not done yet. Can’t win if you don’t get there.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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