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Palo Verde sweeps Coronado for 5A boys volleyball title — PHOTOS

Palo Verde boys volleyball Phil Clarke admitted he was biased in his belief that the Panthers deserved to win the Class 5A state championship.

“But you got to go in and take it,” Clarke said.

His team did just that Tuesday night and avenged a heartbreaking loss in last year’s title match.

Palo Verde swept Coronado in three sets for a 25-16, 25-21, 25-22 win at Sunrise Mountain in the 5A state title match. It’s the school’s state-record fifth boys volleyball title.

“They were focused the whole way, and this was the goal,” Clarke said. “It’s a long season and we got there, so to win it with this group it means a great deal.”

The Panthers, the Mountain League’s No. 2 seed, lost last year’s title game in five sets to Shadow Ridge. Coronado, the Mountain League champion and No. 1 seed, and Palo Verde split their two regular-season meetings, with each team winning in four sets on their home floor in league play.

“All of us were in that game last year, and we remember that feeling of losing. Losing it sucked,” senior outside hitter Cole Manning said. “We got back here, and we knew we weren’t going away with anything but a ring.”

Junior outside hitter Dylan Ho led Palo Verde (30-8) with 13 kills, and Manning added 12. Senior setter Blake Madsen added 30 assists.

“It feels great. I couldn’t have done it with my teammates,” Ho said. “I’m going to miss all my seniors. “It felt like a great redemption, and we wanted it even more this year with how we lost last year. We took care of business tonight.”

With Ho, Manning and Madsen attacking and blocking the net, Palo Verde closed the first set on a 9-2 run to take the early 1-0 lead.

Coronado (24-5) battled back in the second set, tying it at 19 late. But Palo Verde responded with kills from Manning, Madsen and Carmine Smeltzer to regain the lead and go up 2-0.

“This is such a momentum game, so it doesn’t take much to flip that,” Clarke said. “To finish that first set strong and make a run there in the second, there’s no running out the clock, you got to finish the game.”

Coronado tied the third set at 15, but Palo Verde answered by scoring the next four points to get some breathing room and held on for the set win and state title.

“It felt amazing,” Manning said. “It’s everything we’ve dreamed of. We’ve been working at this for four years, and it’s just the best feeling in the world. It’s a perfect way to go out my senior year.”

The win is Clarke’s 400th. He entered the season with 370 and is the state’s all-time wins leader by 80 wins, according to the NIAA record book. Clarke has led Palo Verde to all five of its state titles, which is the most titles won by one coach.

“Having so many guys back (from last year), it was a different mentality,” Clarke said. “It was their goal, and they stuck to it and never lost sight of that. It feels great. It’s just a great group of guys.”

Class 4A

— No. 1S Basic 3, No. 2S Bishop Gorman 0: The Wolves controlled from the start to take a 25-19, 25-9, 25-23 victory in the 4A state title match.

“To come in and play in a final, and win 3-0 and keep one team down to less than 10 points in a set, it was just amazing,” Basic coach Megan Greer said. “Once I knew that, our momentum was never to let the ball drop and just keep playing, I just felt it.”

Basic (18-10), the Sky League champion, built a 16-10 lead over Gorman (22-10) midway through the first set and maintained control to win the set. The Wolves dominated the second set, closing on a 12-1 run.

Gorman made a rally late in the third set, drawing even twice, but Basic won the final two points to win the school its second boys volleyball state title.

“I’m overwhelmed, excited and just so proud of my boys for working every day,” Greer said. “High school sports are very challenging. … I’m just overwhelmed at the moment.”

Class 3A

— No. 1M Boulder City 3, No. 1D Virgin Valley 0: Brady Sorenson had 17 kills as the Eagles (26-6) rolled to a 25-19, 25-18, 25-20 victory for their third straight title in the first of the three state title matches at Sunrise Mountain.

Travis Hess added 14 kills, Roman Rose finished with 37 assists, and David Zwhalen recorded 16 digs for Boulder City, the Mountain League champion. Virgin Valley, the Desert League champion, finishes 24-12.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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