DIVISION I-A VOLLEYBALL: Roadrunners enjoying move to I-A

Tech boys volleyball coach Tiare Monga fully embraced her program’s move to Division I-A this year.  

“Moving down a division definitely helped our school out,” she said. “It’s what we needed to get this school feeling like winners … last year when we were in (Class 4A), we had a lot of players who were used to the old program and were losers at heart. We were able to filters those kids out and challenge our kids”

If Tuesday’s Division I-A state semifinal was any indication, the Roadrunners’ new-found winning mentality is no fluke. 

Junior Tyler Gardenhire registered 16 kills and two blocks as Tech swept Clark 25-21, 25-19, 25-18 at Chaparral.

The Roadrunners (17-1), who are competing in their first postseason tournament, will face Mojave in the championship match at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Chaparral.

“We were super nervous because we had to make a last-minute change,” Monga said. “We had some players that didn’t go to school today, and one of them was our starting setter. The good thing about our team is they play like a team, and when one person is down, they rally behind them.”

Junior Miguel Garcia had seven of his 25 assists in the opening set, and Gardenhire added four kills to help the Roadrunners gain early momentum.

Tech, relying heavily on its front-row attack, used seven kills from Gardenhire in the second set to pull away from Clark.

A 5-0 run midway through the third set allowed the Roadrunners to create some space at 12-8, before a quick 9-2 spurt capped the match. Garcia’s dominant block at the center of the net scored the match-point. 

“I’ve had butterflies all week preparing for this,” Monga said. “Win or lose tomorrow, they’ve come such a long way. We had a 15-1 regular season, and we were undefeated in league. My boys really stepped up, and they’re just proving themselves.”

Bryan Catenza added six kills for Tech.

Walt Benda paced the Chargers (5-12) with eight kills.

In the other semifinal, the Rattlers overcame a resilient comeback win from Chaparral in the third set to take the match 25-11, 25-8, 27-29, 25-16.

Christian Limtiaco supplied 16 kills and four digs, and teammate Jovan Carrazco dished out 36 assists for Mojave (16-7), which will play for the program’s first state championship.

The Rattlers pulled away early in the fourth set, opening with a key 8-3 run to put the Cowboys away. Limtiaco had four kills in the set.

Dominic Carr had nine kills and seven blocks for Chaparral, which finished 9-4.  

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