Boulder Creek HS rallies to win boys’ D-I volleyball title

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                </div>  Perry High School played the role of the final ‘Cinderella’ team of the 2015-16 school year as its boys’ volleyball team made it all the way to the big […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Perry High School played the role of the final ‘Cinderella’ team of the 2015-16 school year as its boys’ volleyball team made it all the way to the big dance.  But it was Boulder Creek High that came away with the Division I crown.

The No. 4-seeded Perry High from Gilbert, which had relied heavily on underclassmen in compiling a 36-6 record, made its way through the state playoffs and upset No. 1 Desert Vista High in the semifinals to earn its first-ever appearance in the title game.

But Boulder Creek, the No. 2 seed from Anthem that had already racked up four trips to the state championship game since 2007, was able to come back from a loss in the first set to overcome the Pumas in a four-set match.

Perry was coming off a thrilling comeback effort against Desert Vista in the semis in which it rallied after losing the first two sets to go on to a five-set victory.  The Pumas also had to overcome a psychological hump in that one after losing to Desert Vista twice earlier in the season, 2-1 in mid-March and 3-1 just days before the playoffs began.

It built on that momentum by winning big in the first set in the finals, 17-25.  But Boulder Creek turned the tables, winning 25-17 in the second set.

The barn-burner was the third set that went down to the wire before Boulder Creek pulled it out.  The Jaguars worked their way to a 21-16 lead and looked like they would roll on from there.  But Perry rallied and was able to even things at 23-23 and then sent the packed gym at Mesquite High into a frenzy by pulling to within one at 25-24 before the Jags closed out the 28-26 win.

Perry gave the top seed all it could handle in the final set, actually leading by a point at mid-set before the Jags went on a four-point run and then held on for the 25-21 win to earn their second championship in three years.

Both of those state tiles, in 2016 and 2014, were under head coach Troy Dueling.  But next year Boulder Creek will have to make its bid for a repeat without him.  Dueling is heading for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix where he will become an assistant coach.

His replacement will be without a core group of four seniors that contributed significantly to this title: Grady O’Neil, Andrew deLeon, Liam Santa Cruz, and Bryce Whitman.

Santa Cruz led the offensive attack against Perry with 20 kills and 12 digs.  Whitman had 16 kills, deLeon had 51 assists, and libero O’Neil finished with 38 digs.

Perry’s senior outside hitter Ethan Fillmore led all players with 22 kills, while sophomore outside hitter Collin Hoag contributed 11 kills, sophomore libero Jason Tomlinson recorded 23 digs, and sophomore setter Dallin Winward had 19 digs.

Those three sophomores played key roles all season long, part of a roster that included six sophomores and three juniors often in the rotation.

With that kind of experience returning next year, Perry will likely be considered a favorite instead of a Cinderella.