Her team could have been viewed as an underdog Tuesday, but Clark’s boys volleyball coach Linda Silver never saw it that way.
Neither did her players.
The Chargers, the No. 2 seed from the Sunset, took control early and survived a late scare on the way to a 25-22, 11-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-11 victory over Sunrise No. 1 seed Chaparral in the semifinals of the Division I-A state tournament at Desert Pines.
Henok Mucheye had 13 kills and two blocks to lead Clark (13-9), which will play Mojave (20-4) for the championship at 6 p.m. today.
“I don’t think it was an upset,” Silver said. “I knew if the boys played the way they could, they could beat some of the better teams this week.”
It almost didn’t work out that way, as the Chargers had the Cowboys against the ropes at 23-19 in the fourth set, only to fall 25-23 after allowing six straight points.
Even Silver worried that Chaparral’s momentum could carry into the final set.
“Volleyball is crazy,” she said. “Luckily the boys didn’t fall apart. They made some mistakes but sucked it up.”
After the teams split the first two sets, Mucheye took over in the third by logging five kills to help Clark win the set for a 2-1 lead.
The Cowboys struggled with serving throughout the fourth set and trailed most of the way. But several timely kills by Pierce Morgan helped them complete an unlikely rally to tie the match at two sets apiece.
But momentum quickly turned again, and the Chargers jumped to a 6-0 lead in the final set.
“I was still stressing,” said Silver, who feared the advantage would not be enough.
She was right, as Chaparral later used a 6-0 run to cut its deficit to 9-8. But the Chargers never relinquished their narrow lead, and finished off the match when Jericho Tuitele’s only kill caromed off a defender for match point.
Silver said she was not surprised to see her team qualify for the championship game.
“I knew we had a pretty good chance, but it would depend on how the boys played,” she said. “They peaked early in the season and then slumped. I’m hoping they’re starting to pick it up again.”
Walt Benda helped Clark with eight kills and an ace. Teammate Daniel Diaz-Villa added eight kills.
Morgan led the Cowboys with 17 kills and an ace. Teammate Matt Sanger had eight kills, and Josiah Wagge had six kills and two blocks.
Mojave 3, Tech 1 — Matt Albinio had 26 kills to lead the Rattlers past the Roadrunners 25-18, 26-24, 20-25, 26-24 in the other semifinal.
Tech offered plenty of resistance and threatened to take the match to a fifth set after rallying to tie the fourth at 24-24. But Jordan Glenn put the Rattlers ahead with a late kill, and Tech hit the final point into the net to end it.
Jovan Carrazco had 41 assists for Mojave. Teammate Lorenzo Guerrero added 40 digs, and Glenn finished with 11 kills and four blocks.