Arbor View beat Centennial three times in the regular season, once in a tournament and twice during Northwest League play.
But in the league rivals’ most important meeting of the season on Thursday, a Sunset Region semifinal at Legacy, Centennial overcame squandering a two-game lead and three match points in the fifth set to defeat the Aggies 25-18, 25-23, 18-25, 24-26 and 19-17.
The Bulldogs (32-9), the No. 3 seed from the Northwest League, will meet Northwest No. 2 seed Palo Verde (27-9) at 5 p.m. Friday at Coronado for the region championship.
“We knew this team had tendencies, we knew they liked to do certain things, and we knew that they didn’t deviate from those tendencies,” Centennial coach Erik Davis said. “We didn’t want to overwhelm the kids with too much information, at the same time we want to make sure that they know where they could stop the other team.”
And when it comes to defending Arbor View, that meant two people: Trevin Clizbe and Brenden Wagner.
“The ball goes to them 90 percent of the time, and we had to figure out how to stop them,” said Centennial outside hitter Kade Frischknecht, who had 19 kills, nine digs and five aces in the win. “We just had to bring our very best from the beginning to establish that we could do this and we could hang with them, and we did that.”
Clizbe, Brenden Wagner and Andrew Wagner were a major reason the Aggies clawed their way back into the match by winning the third and fourth games.
It was Brenden Wagner’s stuff that put Arbor View ahead 4-3 in the final game, and shortly thereafter, three straight service points by the senior that gave the Aggies an 8-6 lead.
But the Bulldogs went on a 7-3 run, including a pair of kills by Frischknecht, to go ahead 13-11. Arbor View tied the game at 13, and eventually had match point at 15-14. The Aggies couldn’t maneuver around the referee’s stand on the next point, enabling Centennial to tie the set once again.
The teams traded points before Clizbe’s kill gave the Aggies a 17-16 lead, and their third opportunity to win the match.
But Arbor View’s Jake Reid served the ball long on the next point. Then, Antwaun Smith put Centennial up by one with a kill, and it was Farries Gardner’s block that sealed the win to send the Bulldogs to the championship.
“We taught the kids how to execute against this team,” Davis said. “We basically just worked really hard to understand what we needed to do, and then also not focus too much on them, be able to focus just on our game and play great volleyball. And tonight we did that.”
Sam Belnap had 48 assists, 12 digs, one kill and one ace for the Bulldogs. Gardner had 11 kills, 10 digs and two aces, and Smith added 10 kills, two digs and two aces.
Clizbe powered the Aggies (30-9) with 21 kills, three blocks and two aces. Brenden Wagner had 24 kills, three aces and two blocks, Tyreese Cole had five kills and three blocks, and Carson Driscoll added 51 assists for Arbor View.
Palo Verde 3, Bishop Gorman 1 — At Legacy, Kainoa Villa had 21 assists, nine digs and six kills to lead the Panthers past the Southwest’s top-seeded Gaels.
“Going through the division we had this year was almost like a long playoff run, so we were battle tested for the postseason,” Palo Verde coach Phil Clarke said. “Even when Gorman jumped out to a 5-0 lead in that fourth set, the guys never panicked and were able to chip away at the end.”
The Panthers also got balanced contributions from Scott Solan (12 kills, six aces and two blocks), Josh Horn (eight kills and two blocks) and Zach Nelson, who finished with 15 digs.
“We’ve had six different guys lead us in kills in matches this season, and it’s kind of nice when they all contribute like that,” Clarke said. “We take pride in that, and that’s what we preach.”
Charlie Polinow had 21 kills, 12 digs, one block and one ace for the Gaels (38-7), and Will Hafen had 15 digs and 11 kills.