DIVISION I-A VOLLEYBALL: Chargers reach goal, face Rattlers in title match

The Clark boys volleyball team’s whole season centered around getting another shot at defending champion Mojave in the state Division I-A championship game.

Mission accomplished.

The Chargers came out on fire in the second semifinal match Tuesday at Chaparral and swept Tech 25-18, 26-24, 25-20 to set up a rematch with the Rattlers.

Clark (14-4) will face Mojave (26-3) at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Chaparral for the title.

“It feels great to know that we have that challenge ahead of us,” Clark senior Walt Benda said. “We lost to them last year at state, so getting a rematch is going to be great. This whole season we kind of expected we’d get to this point. The momentum and build-up to this moment made us play harder tonight.”

The Chargers attacked the net from the start, jumping out to a 16-9 lead in the first set against the stunned Roadrunners (12-5).

“We came out a little bit more aggressive tonight,” assistant coach Jonathan Espiritu said. “Every game we play, we are the smaller team. The boys were there last year, so they felt like they had the right to be there again. They played liked they wanted it today.”

In the second set, the Chargers once again jumped out to a big lead, but the Roadrunners regained their composure and had a chance to win the set with a 24-22 lead.

Clark took a much-needed timeout to help the team regain its composure.

“We talked about the whole season and how it came down to this,” Benda said. “We said we shouldn’t throw away all the hard work because we couldn’t get a simple serve past them. What got us over that was taking a deep breath and keeping our composure.”

After the timeout, Clark’s Henok Mucheye scored a kill to give the Chargers the serve, and he managed to serve out the next three points to give the Chargers a 2-0 lead.

Clark dominated the third set to move into the championship match.

“The difference in the game was our overall experience,” Espiritu said. “We have a lot of seniors this year and a lot of people coming back from last year in some key positions. Having that experience in the finals last year gave us the edge we needed tonight.”

Benda led the Chargers with 13 digs and 12 kills. Daniel Pedroza had 13 digs, Walt Regalado had 28 assists, and Mucheye had six kills.

Bryant Pochop had 11 kills and five digs to lead the Roadrunners. Brian Kaier had eight kills, and Josh Wood had three kills, 17 assists and five digs for Tech.

Mojave 3, Del Sol 0 — Jordan Glenn had 13 kills and four digs to lead the Rattlers to a 25-15, 25-13, 25-7 victory over the Dragons in the other semifinal.

Alex Carvalho had 16 kills for Mojave.

The Rattlers appeared to let the excitement of the semifinals get them early as they fell behind 6-5 in the first set. However, Mojave quickly settled down, running off five straight points to take control of the first set and the match.

Jason Zambrano had 35 assists and six digs for the Rattlers. Clayton Fontano had five kills and six digs, and Anthony Reed added 17 digs for Mojave.

Jared Moreda led Del Sol (12-5) with five kills, nine digs and six blocks.

La’akea Cabanas had four kills, nine assists and four digs, and teammate Andrei Sanataria had 12 digs and two aces for the Dragons.