Each of the past two years, the team that won the boys volleyball state championship in Nevada did not win its region tournament.
Las Vegas High hopes to make it three years in a row.
The four-team state tournament begins today at Sierra Vista, with Sunrise Region champion Coronado (21-1) facing Sunset runner-up Centennial (17-6) at 5 p.m. and Sunset winner Palo Verde (18-5) playing Sunrise runner-up Las Vegas (18-5) at 7. The winners will meet in the state title match at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Las Vegas is gunning for its second straight state title and third in the past five years.
“We were in the same position last year, and we could probably do it again,” Wildcats senior setter Danny Farias said. “We just have to stay as a team, work together and don’t let bad things get to us and keep going.”
Las Vegas fell 3-1 to Coronado in last season’s Sunrise title match and then won 3-1 over Palo Verde in a state semifinal and 3-0 over Centennial in the state final.
This season is shaping up similarly, with the Wildcats losing 3-0 to Coronado in the region final and opening state against Palo Verde.
But Las Vegas coach Sue Thurman has cautioned her players not to think too much of last season.
“Last year’s team was last year’s team,” she said. “There are a lot of people here that were on the court last year, and I think they think, ‘Oh, we’re in the same situation, our record’s the same,’ except it’s not the same. We’re not the same team.”
Las Vegas returned to practice Saturday morning after its 25-18, 25-18, 25-14 loss to Coronado on Friday, of which Farias said the Wildcats “didn’t play with any heart.”
On Monday, they broke down film of a 3-1 home loss to Palo Verde on May 8.
“We’ve been working on blocking more and being smarter with what we do with the ball,” Farias said.
“The key when we played (Palo Verde) was we didn’t close up a lot of blocks,” she said.
If the Wildcats are to repeat as state champions, it begins with Farias, a four-year starter who was named Northeast League Most Valuable Player this season.
“I know he’s going to give it everything he has (today) to make sure that his team can be successful,” Thurman said.