Boys volleyball: Brophy Prep poised for state title run

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                </div>  The Brophy Prep  boys’ volleyball team is on a roll this season and appears to be headed for an eventual berth in the state championship match, and is expected by […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The Brophy Prep  boys’ volleyball team is on a roll this season and appears to be headed for an eventual berth in the state championship match, and is expected by most to bring home that trophy.

But the Broncos need only look back to last year to put things into perspective, and be reminded that regular-season success doesn’t always translate into success in the post-season.

Brophy has lost just two matches this season and is the No. 1-ranked team in Division I (the only division in the sport since Division II was eliminated three years ago).  All season long, they have been considered the favorite to win it all.  But that was the lofty expectation for Mesa High School last year, when the Jackrabbits started the season as the team to beat and went into the state tournament as the No. 1 seed and still the favorite to bring home the school’s first-ever state title in the sport.

Mesa won the Chandler Wolf Howl Tournament to open the 2014 season with a team that had won 39 matches and advanced as far as the state semifinals the year before, losing just one game during the Wolf Howl and confirming the pre-season predictions that had them at the top of the rankings from Day One.

However, Boulder Creek High School showed how little it meant to finish the season with a 43-3 record and navigate the entire regular season as the odds-on favorite.  The No. 6-seeded Anthem school, also looking for its first boys’ soccer title, pulled a stunning upset in the championship match, beating Mesa in five sets.

Brophy doesn’t want to be this year’s Mesa.  But the Broncos are definitely in the same flight pattern heading toward the post-season.

The Broncos lost just one game in eight matches to win this year’s Wolf Howl, eventually beating Mountain View High (Mesa) in straight sets to win the title.  And then they closed out March by winning the Las Vegas Easter Invitational, taking the title in a field of 48 teams from around the country by beating California power, Buchanan High, in three sets.

They also picked up some top honors at the Vegas tourney as the 6’7″ senior setter and opposite hitter, Andrew Lincoln, was named the tournament’s MVP, and placed five players on the All-Tournament team: Lincoln, Carson Flood, Cole Herrmann, Austin Inglett, and Adam Randolph. Lincoln has been fueling the fire all season; he was also named MVP at the Wolf Howl.

That addition of five players to the All-Tournament team points to the Broncos’ key to winning this season.  They have a balanced roster and enough depth that they don’t have to depend on one or two ‘all-stars’ to carry them each game.  And they’ve been building experience through the club system in the off-season; all but two on this year’s roster play club ball.

Their breadlth of talent was on display again last weekend when the Broncs rolled through their own invitational tournament, winning the title for the first time in the last 11 years. This year’s event  was designed to provide a pre-state tournament challenge, giving participating teams solid competition; eight of the top 12 teams (based on power rankings) were among those invited.

Brophy beat Hamilton High in the title game, 25-21 and 25-18, as the Broncos’ only loss came at the hands of Sandra Day O’Connor High School in pool play.  And, once again, MVP honors went to Lincoln, who led the offense in the title game with 10 kills, just a couple more than Herrmann’s eight.

This third straight invitational tournament title marks the first time that has happened in the history of the program.

But the next big tournament win will be the most important.  The state tournament is little more than a week away.