With all the excitement on campus centered on yesterday’s softball state championship at Cienega High School, it’s easy to lose sight of the other state title that came just three days earlier, courtesy of the boys’ volleyball team.
The Tucson school had to pull off a five-set comeback to defeat Horizon Honors High School (Phoenix) for this year’s 5A state championship, putting the cap on a string of 24 straight victories to close out the season.
This title was special since it’s the first state championship in the sport, and it came against one of the best teams in the state. Horizon Honors posted a 30-5 record this season and had also won 24 straight matches before the loss to Cienega. In fact, Horizon blew through that long string of wins without losing a single set.
Neither school had lost to a 5A opponent until the finals.
Top-seeded Cienega (37-4) took the first set, 25-16 and appeared to be on the way to dominating the match, but then found itself on the verge of elimination after losing the next two by identical 20-25 scores.
But Cienega’s senior middle hitter Skyler Cavanaugh and senior setter McLain Mott, the squad’s co-captains, stepped up their game in the final two sets to help lift the Bobcats through the final sets, posting 25-21 and 15-11 victories. Cavanaugh finished with 16 kills and Mott added 13 to go along with his 41 assists. The team’s leading scorer was another senior, opposite hitter Alex Muszynski, who contributed 17 kills to the effort.
Horizon’s Trevor Weary, a senior outside hitter, led the Eagles with 35 kills, giving him 547 on the year.
While Cienega was struggling to earn its first-ever boys’ volleyball title, Boulder Creek High School was busy working its way through the 6A brackets en route to the Anthem school’s second straight title, and third championship in four years.
Boulder Creek was a No. 4 seed, but played like a top seed against No. 2 Chandler High, winning the title in four sets.
The Jaguars, which finished the year 40-5-2, almost pulled this one out in three sets, winning the first two and then dropping the third set by three points. The final score was 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, and 25-21.
For awhile, it looked like Chandler (31-5-4) was going to be able to use the momentum from the third-set win to carry it through the next set. The Wolves opened the fourth set by jumping out to a 3-0 lead, but couldn’t contain Boulder Creek’s power offense.
Sophomore outside hitter Jackson Hickman led the Boulder Creek attack with 17 kills, while senior OH Patrick Ross added 13 more to the team total.
But it was Jonny Bowles, Chandler’s junior opposite hitter, that led all scorers for the match, collecting 19 kills to run his season total to 427 kills.