VOLLEYBALL HONORS: Panthers’ Simister caps senior year with state title, MVP award

Palo Verde outside hitter Michael Simister didn’t get the outcome he had envisioned a season ago when the Panthers were ousted in the Sunset Region semifinals by Shadow Ridge.

He certainly got the Hollywood ending his senior season.

Simister led the Panthers to their first state title in six years and recently was named the Division I Most Valuable Player by the Southern Nevada volleyball coaches. Mojave’s Jordan Glenn earned the Division I-A MVP honors after helping the Rattlers to a second consecutive state title.

“Last year ended sooner than our guys expected and wanted going in,” Palo Verde coach Phil Clarke said. “He was just one of those guys that said, ‘We’re not going to let this happen next year. We’re going to get back.’ Most people would take some time off or have an excuse not to be there. He was in the gym the very next day.

“A lot of people say they want these big goals. But he actually put the work in.”

Simister, who finished the season with 503 kills, 248 digs, and 61 aces, was the lone returning starter from the 2014 team that many expected to make a deep playoff run.

“He was definitely one of our co-captains and the emotional leader,” Clarke said. “When he was fired up, it brought the energy of the whole group up. Maybe not at first, but at the end, he realized the impact he had on the whole group.”

Simister capped his season with a remarkable performance in the state championship. He had 24 kills, four aces and four blocks to help Palo Verde sweep Legacy.

“It was never really looking ahead for him,” Clarke said. “A lot of guys were looking at playing at the next level. But his main goal right in front of him was winning now. It was winning a state championship. He kind of went with it. I wouldn’t say he sacrificed. He accepted it and went with it. He was a huge team player, and it wasn’t all about the stats.”

Palo Verde teammates Cole Willson, a setter, and Parker Nelson, a middle blocker, led the All-Southern Nevada first team. They were joined by Arbor View’s Sam Buckels, Centennial’s Tanner Durkin, Foothill’s Colin Curi and Shilo Chow, Las Vegas’ Antonio Wong, and Legacy’s Zaire Franklin.

Clarke, in his ninth season, was selected the Division I Coach of the Year as the Panthers finished 32-11.

“It’s cool to get voted on by your peers and other coaches,” Clarke said. “But coaches don’t get those kind of awards without their team. Without guys like Cole, Michael, Parker putting in the work. To me, it’s just kind of another award for them. We can work on all the drills we want, but if they’re not wiling to buy in and put the work in, it doesn’t really matter what we say.”

Mojave’s Alex Carvalho, Jason Zambrano and Anthony Reed all were named to the Division I-A All-Southern Nevada first team and were joined by Tech’s Joshua Wood and Bryant Pochop, Chaparral’s Jose Chavez, Clark’s Walt Benda, and Del Sol’s Jared Moreda.

Mojave’s Erik Davis was named the I-A Coach of the Year. The Rattlers went undefeated in Sunset League play and finished with a 27-3 overall record.