It was only fitting that Caleb Stearman put a punctuation mark on Thursday’s Desert Region semifinal boys volleyball match.
Stearman’s sixth kill of the fifth set allowed the Falcons to complete a 20-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 15-11 comeback and advance to both Friday’s region final and next week’s state tournament.
Foothill (25-14) will meet Coronado (30-11) in the region final at 5 p.m. Friday at Arbor View.
Stearman, the Falcons’ captain, had 20 kills, 21 assists, three blocks and two aces to ensure a spot in the region final.
“As the captain, he’s the one who was telling the boys, ‘We gotta go. We gotta go,’” Foothill coach Lewis Miranda said. “He’s always been our go-to guy. We knew we needed to start getting the ball to him a little bit more.”
Foothill scored first in the third and fourth sets and eventually evened the match to set up the decisive fifth set.
“It was just will,” Stearman said. “We were playing for each other. My team got me going, then we had the momentum the rest of the way.”
Chandler Higbee added 33 assists for Foothill. Brock Weaver (13), Sawyer Campbell (11) and Jace Roquemore (10) each added double-figure kills for the Falcons.
Tanner Billiu had 13 kills and six blocks, and Jordan Wafer added 12 kills and six blocks for Liberty. Pascal Chavez had 14 kills and five digs, and Sefania Mamea dished out 35 assists for Liberty, which got 15 digs from Atapana Malele-Faaifo.
Coronado 3, Silverado 0 — The Cougars staved off late rallies in the first two sets, then dominated the third to advance to the regional championship with a 25-23, 27-25, 25-14 victory over the Skyhawks.
Jacob Ceci had 19 kills, seven digs, three aces and two blocks, and Alex Winiarczyk and Randy Cowles each had 11 kills for Coronado. Alex White added 42 assists and five digs, and Andrew Corales had 17 digs for the Cougars.
Bryson Jenkins had eight kills and three digs for Silverado (22-17). Sean Borla added six kills, nine digs, three blocks and two aces, and Bravyn Aquino had 20 assists and 11 digs for the Skyhawks.
Palo Verde coach Phil Clarke noticed something was missing early Thursday.
With his Panthers leading Cimarron-Memorial, 4-0 in the first set of a Mountain Region semifinal, Clarke took advantage of a Cimarron timeout to snap his team out of its silence.
It worked to perfection as the Panthers cruised to a 25-12, 25-11, 25-15 win over the Spartans, earning a spot in the region final and a state semifinal berth.
“That was my fault,” Clarke said. “One of the timeouts early in the first set we were talking about how it doesn’t seem like a playoff atmosphere, and I made the mistake of mentioning that it was silent. They kind of rolled with that and decided to sing ‘Silent Night.’ I kind of walked into that one. They’re known to sing between sets and do whatever gets them happy.”
Senior opposite hitter Scott Solan, a Pepperdine commit, had 11 kills and served up four aces for the Panthers (34-3), who missed the 2018 state 4A playoffs after winning the state title in 2017.
Senior outside hitter Jared Brady added 10 kills for Palo Verde, senior middle blocker Andrew Tingey finished with six kills and three blocks, and sophomore setter Cooper Jarman dished out 29 assists for the Panthers, who will meet Arbor View (33-5) in the region final at 7 p.m. Friday at Arbor View. The Panthers swept the Aggies in their league matchup.
“We’ll just have to stay focused and play our game,” said Clarke. “We’ve played each other before. We tell our guys that the first time around doesn’t mean a whole lot. We have to do it again.”
Kilmor Amor had four kills and five digs, and Maximo Torres had four kills and three digs to lead the Spartans (23-17).
Arbor View 3, Centennial 2 — At Arbor View, Gideon Belnap had 28 kills, 15 digs and three blocks as the Aggies eliminated the defending Class 4A state champion Bulldogs, 19-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18, 15-10.
Jaylen Harris had 18 kills and three blocks, and Chad Decker had 10 kills and 16 digs for Arbor View. Logan Bollinger had eight kills and four blocks, and Max Senior dished out 56 assists and had 16 digs for Arbor View.
Justin Madsen had 17 kills to lead the Bulldogs (32-8). Nahmani Brown had 15 kills, Cole Kahle had 12 kills and Austin Anderson had 10 kills for Centennial.
Class 3A State
Alex Marin had 10 kills to help host Del Sol’s boys volleyball team to a 25-10, 25-13, 25-10 win over Valley in a Class 3A state quarterfinal.
Jaime Barajas dished out 28 assists for the Dragons (24-17), who will face Sky Pointe (20-16) in a semifinal at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Mojave. Sky Pointe swept Western, 25-12, 25-13, 25-15.
Boulder City 3, Chaparral 0 — At Boulder City, Karson Bailey had 13 kills as the Eagles downed the Cowboys, 25-10, 29-27, 25-10.
Preston Jorgensen had 11 kills, and Boen Huxford added 16 assists for Boulder City. Kenny Rose dished out nine assists, and Kannon Rose had 10 digs for the Eagles (24-9), who will face Mojave (23-11) in a semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mojave.
Robert McGregor had nine kills and 12 assists, and Isaiah Faigal had nine assists for Chaparral (6-13).
Mojave 3, Sunrise Mountain 0 — At Mojave, T.J. Blanchard-Davis had 18 kills, three aces and three digs to lift the Rattlers over the Miners 25-17, 25-13, 25-23.
Juan Carbajal had two kills, 25 assists and seven digs, and Shannon Paule had seven kills and two digs for Mojave. Sebastian James added six kills for the Rattlers.
Sunrise Mountain finished 4-20.