Las Vegas High’s boys volleyball team had been taken to the limit by Valley twice during the regular season.
It was no surprise that their meeting came down to the final two points of the fifth set Friday.
The Wildcats, who trailed by six points in the fifth set, rallied for a 25-17, 20-25, 25-22, 27-29, 18-16 win over the Vikings in the Sunrise Region final at Las Vegas. Both teams qualify for the Division I state tournament, which begins Tuesday at Legacy.
“What an amazing match,” Las Vegas coach Sue Thurman said. “I can’t put into words just how I’m feeling. It was incredible — the match, the fight by my team and the support of those in attendance, including our students.”
Las Vegas (20-5) needed every bit of that home-court advantage, as the Wildcats opened the final set down 8-2.
“I called my timeouts much quicker than usual,” Thurman said. “In the huddle, I told the players to reach down deep and trust each other. Led by our senior class, these kids didn’t quit.”
Once the Wildcats pulled even, it was like a heavyweight bout down the stretch of the 2-hour, 6-minute match. The Wildcats rode the kills of Chris Kampshoff and the digs of Chris Marx.
Las Vegas also managed to hold Valley senior opposite hitter Jack Heavey in check for the final four points as the Wildcats took the crown.
“What a job by Marx,” Thurman said of his senior middle blocker, who had 10 solo blocks. “Valley is a great team, and they played very well.”
Naturally, coming so close and not finishing on top left a bitter taste for Valley.
“Yes, it was a great match, but we just couldn’t finish,” Vikings coach Matt Porter said. “This is such a bitter pill to swallow, because we played so well and came that close.”
Heavey had 33 kills and seven digs for Valley (18-8), and teammate David Delaney added 31 digs. Junior Alex Sandoval had 55 assists and six digs for the Vikings, who will meet the Sunset Region champion in next week’s state semifinal.
Kampshoff had 21 kills and 11 digs. T.J. Esporas added 15 kills and 16 digs, and Evan Kinard notched 22 digs for the Wildcats.
Shayne Marquez had 53 assists and seven digs for Las Vegas, and Brian Singson had five kills, seven blocks and 16 digs.
Shadow Ridge assistant coach Stewart Sherman volunteers his time to the Mustangs’ volleyball team.
Sherman also plays the sport as a member of the U.S. Air Force Sports Volleyball Team.
On Friday night, Sherman’s teammates came to town to watch the Mustangs face Legacy in the finals of the Sunset Regional.
But it was the Longhorns who provided the majority of the ammunition, as Legacy rolled to a 25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 25-15 victory and its first regional crown.
In next week’s Division I state tournament, Legacy will face Valley and Sunrise Regional champ Las Vegas will meet Shadow Ridge.
Shadow Ridge and Legacy know there’s still unfinished business.
“What a feeling to grab the title,” Legacy coach Ray Lewis said. “It’s great to get some hardware for the trophy case. Still, we have more to tend to, and we will not overlook anyone.”
For Shadow Ridge, it’s a continuation of a learning process for such a young team.
“We continue to learn, continue to get better,” Mustang coach Travis Underwood said. “Hey, we are one of four teams still playing volleyball, and that’s an accomplishment. We will learn from this match and take it to state.”
Lewis admitted that his team might have come out a bit nervous after the Sunrise Regional final between Valley and Las Vegas, which lasted more than two hours and went five games.
“Seeing a match like that psyches you out at times,” Lewis said. “Once we got the jitters out, we were fine.”
Legacy did get the bugs out quickly, leading by as much as eight in the first game.
In the second game, the Longhorns used the work of Tanner and Trent Compton to take the 2-0 lead.
Shadow Ridge (13-6) didn’t mail it in, as the Mustangs got solid middle play from Quinn Peterson and A.J. Makaiwi to grab the third game by five points.
But in the decisive game, Legacy rolled to an 11-6 lead and never looked back.
“Our program is moving in the right direction,” Lewis said. “Now we go back to work and get ready for state.”
Tanner Compton had 23 kills for Legacy, and Trent Compton added 12 kills and nine digs. Braden Liu had 51 assists for the Longhorns (26-3).
A.J. Makaiwi led the Mustangs with 14 digs, and N.J. Makaiwi added 13 digs and 30 assists. Peterson finished with 13 digs and 19 kills for Shadow Ridge.