Just two years ago, Mojave’s boys volleyball program was considered a laughingstock in Southern Nevada.
The Rattlers put their history of futility to rest Wednesday by manhandling Clark 25-13, 25-9, 25-17 to win the Division I-A state championship at Desert Pines.
The title was the first for Mojave, which got 13 kills, two blocks and an ace from senior Matt Albinio.
Coach Erik Davis, who took over a Rattlers program in 2013 that had just one win the previous two seasons, said the championship represented the attainment of a goal.
“This is phenomenal for us, obviously,” he said. “The team was a combined 1-31 in the prior two seasons before I came here, so our mantra all year has been to go from worst to first.”
There never was any doubt, as the Rattlers jumped to a 6-1 lead in the first set and rode several scoring spurts behind Albinio’s dominant offensive performance.
Albinio, who had five kills in the first set, logged six more in the second to help Mojave capitalize on a 6-0 run that moved the score to 15-5. The Rattlers cruised from there to take a 2-0 lead.
“I just wanted to stay focused and get the job done,” said Albinio, who used last season’s state final loss to Tech as motivation. “We felt that defeat last year, and we didn’t want to lose anymore.”
Davis agreed that last year’s setback helped spark his squad.
“They were very disappointed after that loss,” he said. “They felt they were the favorites last year, but they weren’t able to perform the way they could have. But that experience really helped us this year.”
Mojave opened the third set with a service error, giving Clark its only lead of the match at 1-0. Though the Chargers quickly surrendered that edge, they managed to keep it close and rallied to tie the set at 14-14 on an emphatic spike by Henok Mucheye.
But Jordan Glenn, who had seven kills in the set, led the Rattlers back. The match point came when Clark’s Ramon Reyes served long.
Davis said he was not surprised by his team’s dominant performance.
“We expected it,” he said. “We played (Clark) very well the two other times we saw them, and that gave us a great deal of confidence. I think our boys smelled it early on.”
Glenn finished with 11 kills and two blocks to help Mojave, and teammate Alex Carvalho had three of his seven kills in the final set.
Jose Sahagun led the Chargers with two kills and two blocks, and Mucheye added three kills.