Boulder Creek boys’ volleyball dominates Brophy Invite

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                </div>  For a school that had never won the Brophy Invitational boys’ volleyball tournament, Boulder Creek High School certainly acted like they owned the place. The Jaguars rolled through the […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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For a school that had never won the Brophy Invitational boys’ volleyball tournament, Boulder Creek High School certainly acted like they owned the place.

The Jaguars rolled through the event, considered the premier tournament in the state, by going undefeated and taking no more than two sets to win each match.  They topped off the two-day event over the weekend at Brophy Prep in Phoenix by beating Gilbert’s Highland High for the 2016 title.

This was a tune-up for the eight teams in this year’s field as they prepare for the final stretch of the schedule and offered some great competition since seven of those squads came into the tourney ranked among the top 15 in Division I, based on current power rankings.

But for Anthem’s Boulder Creek, the tournament was much less about heated competition and more about fine tuning.  Even without senior hitter Liam Santa Cruz, the team’s leader in kills per set (4.7) who is out with a knee injury, the Jags had little trouble putting away Mountain View High (25-9, 25-11) and Desert Vista High (25-17, 25-17).

Saturday’s title match-up with Highland, however, proved to be a little more challenging.

After losing the first set, 25-13, Highland tightened up it’s defense, kept the game close in the early going, and was still hanging with the Jaguars at 24-22 before Boulder Creek nailed down the 25-22 win.

Boulder Creek, which has now run its record to 34-1 and is still unbeaten by any Arizona team, has based much of its success on a staunch, disciplined defense.  And, fittingly, it was the team’s libero, Grady O’Neil, who was named the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player.  The 5’10” senior led the Jags with 14 digs in the title match.

Junior outside hitter Patrick Ross contributed 13 kills and senior setter Andrew deLeon had 26 assists.  Ross is the team leader in total kills with 339 so far this season.

Ross and junior middle blocker Ryan Serrano were All-Tournament team selections.

Boulder Creek’s run through the Brophy Invite came as no surprise to anyone.  This year’s team is ranked at the top of the Division I power rankings.  Its only loss came at the hands of Buchanan High, a California volleyball power that Boulder Creek played in the Las Vegas Easter Invitational in late March.

It was obvious the Jaguars were going to be a contender early on after they won the Chandler Wolf Howl Tournament in the first week of the season.  They’ve only improved since then and the Brophy Invite has simply confirmed that they will be the team to beat when the state competition arrives in three weeks.

This was the first time this season they had played Highland.  But, judging from the weekend’s results, it may not be the last as we move into playoffs.