VOLLEYBALL: Cougars start defense of title in style

Coronado’s girls volleyball team didn’t exactly know how last season’s success would rollover into the new year.

Unfortunately for the rest of Nevada, the defending Division I state champions haven’t missed a beat from a season ago.

The Cougars were a perfect 9-0 in the two-day Las Vegas Invitational, winning the Gold Bracket championship Saturday over San Dieguito Academy (Calif.), 25-21, 25-20, at Las Vegas High.

“It was a good tournament for us,” Coronado coach Matt Johnson said. “We learned a lot about where we’re at right now compared to other people. You don’t really know until you play those first few games. We had a goal for this tournament to beat all Nevada teams. If you’re the defending state champs, you need to defend it against teams within the state. We did that, and we’re pretty proud of that.”

Coronado hadn’t given up more than 20 points in a set before the final game against San Dieguito Academy. The Cougars finished 6-0 against Nevada schools in the tournament, sweeping Durango, Pahrump Valley, Legacy, Douglas, Palo Verde and Shadow Ridge.

“I don’t know if we’ve even thought about (not dropping a set),” Johnson said. “It’s kind of cliche, but I think we’re just taking it one set at a time. I don’t think they even know.”

Senior Berkeley Oblad, a 6-foot-4-inch Utah commit, led the way with three kills against the Mustangs, including the match-clincher for the Cougars, who also got six kills from junior outside-hitter Carolyn Andrulis.

“Berkeley is just intimidating at the net,” Johnson said. “She changes shots even if she doesn’t touch the ball. She changes people’s thoughts about what they want to do and how they want to hit.”

In the second set, Oblad was involved in six straight points as a server, helping the Cougars build a 17-11 lead.

Setter Cali Thompson was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

“She runs the show out there,” Johnson said. “She keeps all those hitters happy and takes a lot of the responsibility for what happens. Even mistakes, she’s taken those on.”

Thompson and Oblad will be key in Coronado’s quest for a repeat this season. Johnson believes his team doesn’t need any extra motivation.

“I think last year motivates them,” he said. “Just the fact that they know teams are gunning for them. Having a target on their back has motivated them…We learned a lot about ourselves (in this tournament). But we still have some things to work on. We have a lot of time. It’s early, and we still have a lot of things to figure out.”

Oblad and Coronado’s Nikki Jackson were named to the all-tournament team along with San Dieguito’s Karina Langli and Savanna Casey, Shadow Ridge’s Caitlin Pascal, Faith Lutheran’s Morgan Hill, Durango’s Carli Taylor, and Mojave’s Alexis Fetui.

Mission Hills (Calif.) 2, Faith Lutheran 0 — At Las Vegas, Mission Hills topped the Crusaders, 25-15, 25-21 in the Silver Bracket Final.

Cayla Nikodemus had five kills and four digs, and Hill supplied five kills and two blocks for Faith Lutheran, which got three aces from Bobbi Tharaldson.

Faith Lutheran 2, Bonanza 0 — At Las Vegas, Jordyn Dunseath had seven kills to help the Crusaders down the Bengals, 25-14, 25-19 in a Silver semifinal.

Hill had four kills and three blocks, and Nikodemus contributed three kills and four digs for Faith Lutheran.

Faith Lutheran 2, Sierra Vista 0 — At Las Vegas, Nikodemus had seven kills and two aces in the Crusaders’ 25-20, 25-17 win over the Mountain Lions in Silver quarterfinal play.

Tharaldson added four kills and two digs for Faith Lutheran.

Reed 2, Faith Lutheran 0 — At Las Vegas, the Raiders topped the Crusaders in pool play, 25-21, 27-26.

Nikodemus had nine kills and two aces, and Hill added seven digs for Faith Lutheran.

Skyline (Utah) 2, Faith Lutheran 0 — At Las Vegas, Skyline was a 25-21, 25-12 winner over the Crusaders.

Haley Vinson had five digs for Faith Lutheran.

Shadow Ridge 2, Faith Lutheran 1 — At Las Vegas, the Mustangs outlasted the Crusaders, 25-23, 23-25, 15-7.

Nikodemus had six kills and eight digs, and Hill had six kills and four digs for Faith Lutheran.

Pahranagat Valley 2, Calvary Chapel 1 — At The Meadows Invitational, the Panthers outlasted the Lions, 25-18, 21-25, 15-12.

Kayla Johnson had 13 assists and seven digs, and Alexis Harris added five kills and 10 digs for Calvary Chapel, which got 15 digs from Alexis Davis.

Coronado JV 2, Calvary Chapel 0 – At The Meadows Invitational, the Cougars’ junior varsity posted a 25-23, 27-26 win over the Lions.

Harris and Malia Lee each had five kills for Calvary Chapel.

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