May 16, 2019 - 10:21 pm
Mojave’s boys volleyball team promised itself it wouldn’t again experience the disappointment it felt last season when it lost to Sky Pointe in the Class 3A state championship.
The host Rattlers got their revenge and another state title, downing Sky Pointe, 25-23, 14-25, 25-15, 25-22 on Thursday. It’s Mojave’s fifth championship in six years.
“This was a promise we kept,” junior Sebastian James said. “We told our captains, those seniors last year.”
With the exception of T.J. Blanchard-Davis, Mojave (25-11) graduated almost all of its senior-laden state team from a year ago.
“I have almost all juniors, a few sophomores,” third-year coach John Engel said. “The worst part was, with last year and all those seniors, not knowing what we expected this year. This was just a remarkable season.”
Blanchard-Davis, who had 23 kills Thursday, was a known commodity, the rest of the team was unknown, but stepped up.
“It was just a remarkable season,” Engel continued. “We had such good matches in our league this year. We were battle-tested for the first time in a long time.”
Those tests helped against the Eagles (21-17).
Sky Pointe took the second set, 25-14 to even the match, and had leads of 4-1 and 8-5 early in the third set before Mojave took over.
James finished with 14 kills, and setter Juan Carbajal had 52 assists and 16 digs for the Rattlers.
“He started off slow,” Engel said of James. “But we knew he needed to be a difference-maker, especially in the middle with (Sky Pointe’s Jaegen) Driscoll in there. That kid is a good player. So (James) had to step it up, and he did.”
Mojave held off a late run by Sky Pointe in the fourth set to finish out the win.
“We just felt like we had to step up,” James said. “We had to hold up the legacy of Mojave volleyball.”
Driscoll had 22 kills and six blocks to lead the way for the Eagles, who battled their way to the final despite losing their starting setter to injury just before the playoffs.
“We weren’t even supposed to be here,” Sky Pointe coach Kristi Driscoll said. “As late as a week ago, we didn’t think we’d make it here. We knew this year was going to be a fight.”