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SUNRISE VOLLEYBALL: Short-handed Falcons no match for Coronado

Facing the Coronado High boys volleyball team is tough enough at full strength. Doing it without one of its best players proved to be an insurmountable task for Foothill on Friday.

Tyler Cucullu had 12 kills and 16 digs, and Matt Pettit added 12 kills and 11 digs as Coronado swept short-handed Foothill 25-19, 25-14, 25-22 in the final of the Sunrise Region tournament at Green Valley.

It is the second region title in the last three years for the Cougars (24-4) and fourth overall. Both teams advance to the Division I state tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Chaparral.

“We didn’t want to bypass this game,” said libero Coltin Romney, one of 11 seniors for Coronado. “We want to put as many banners as possible on the wall and get ourselves ready for state.”

The Falcons (30-11) played most of the match without Chansten Chow. The senior, who had a team-high 16 kills in the semifinal win over Valley, was hit in the face with a ball during warmups, and Foothill coach Chris Sisson said he was showing concussion-like symptoms.

Chow’s kill gave Foothill an 8-6 lead in the first set, but he went to the bench later in the set. After being evaluated by trainers in the locker room, Chow watched the third set from the end of the bench.

“For a senior, it’s heartbreaking to have that happen,” Sisson said. “We had to move the kids around into positions they don’t practice a ton. But I’m proud of the fact we rallied.”

Coronado blocked Chow twice in the first set to go up 20-15 and never trailed in the second set. The Falcons were ahead 16-15 in the third set after one of Kendell Andrews’ 15 kills, but Pettit’s back-row tip evened the match, and the Cougars reeled off six of the next eight points to regain control. Max Osmundson had two of his 10 kills during the run.

Pettit’s kill gave Coronado three match points at 24-21, and after a Foothill sideout, Cougars setter Connor Stephenson went to Cucullu on the outside for the winner.

“Foothill is more physical at the net than we are, but without Chansten that changes their team quite a bit,” Cougars coach Matt Johnson said. “When we got down, especially in the third game, we were able to stick together and weather that storm. That’s what impressed me the most.”

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