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HONORS: DeSoto’s defense, leadership lift youthful Bonanza

Bonanza’s boys volleyball team returned only two significant players from the 2011 state championship team.

But the Bengals had few problems matching its title-winning defense.

Senior libero Kenny DeSoto, the team leader in digs for the past three years, was named Southwest League Most Valuable Player by league coaches.

“He was pretty much the heart and soul of our defense,” said Bonanza coach Joe Cap, who earned coach of the year honors. “We knew if he was out there, he’d make a play, and we could extend every rally.”

Bonanza teammates Brycen Duckworth, Kavanaugh Buck and Mitchell Barnes were each named to the All-Southwest first team.

DeSoto and outside hitter Duckworth, a reserve on the 2011 squad, were key leaders to this season’s team. DeSoto’s leadership and experience were equally vital as his defensive command.

“All the kids looked up to him with his knowledge and experience,” Cap said of DeSoto, who had 512 digs and 439 serves received. “Once we got closer to the playoffs, Kenny stepped up his game and set the tempo for all the other guys to follow. They knew they had to get up to Kenny’s level, or be left behind.”

The Bengals (15-4) finished unbeaten against in-state competition in 2011, and followed up by rolling through the Southwest League at 13-1 this season.

The importance of solid defense, though, was never lost on Cap, who played defensive specialist at Clark.

“He’s fearless, and that’s crucial,” Cap said of DeSoto. “As a good libero, you have to be fearless, want to sell your body out to dig the ball.

“He’s going to be one of those players that will be really hard to replace. His leadership and overall ability, what he brings to the court; he’s one of those guys that everyone liked on the court.”

Garrett Jones was named Northeast League Most Valuable Player after leading Las Vegas High to a 14-0 league record. The Wildcats’ Sue Thurman took coach of the year honors.

Silverado’s Kyle Divicino claimed MVP honors in the Southeast League, helping the Skyhawks to a league title and Sunrise Region title. First-year Silverado head coach Kevin Schwallie was coach of the year.

Shadow Ridge’s Tanner Maxwell and Palo Verde’s Trent Gneiting shared MVP in the Northwest League, and first-year Shadow Ridge coach Trace Venable took coach of the year. The Mustangs won the league and Sunset Region titles, defeating Palo Verde in the region final.

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