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Rubber match to decide 5A boys volleyball title: ‘Everybody’s excited’

Coronado and Palo Verde’s boys volleyball teams split their two regular-season meetings. The Cougars and Panthers will meet for a third time in the biggest game of the season.

Coronado (24-4) and Palo Verde (29-8) will face off at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Sunrise Mountain in the 5A state championship match.

“Everybody’s excited. We’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” Coronado coach Karriem Beyah said. “It’s a really good experience for me being my first year as the head coach of the program, getting this far and being a former (Coronado) player. It’s a nice full-circle moment.”

Each team won in four sets on their home court in Class 5A Mountain League play during the regular season. Coronado earned the No. 1 seed as Mountain League champion, while Palo Verde was the Mountain League’s No. 2 seed.

“It’s nice to get a rubber match to decide it because it feels like it’s unsettled,” Palo Verde coach Phil Clarke said. “We won our home game. (Coronado) won their home game. We’re going to a place we’ve never been before to settle it.”

Sunrise Mountain will host all three state title games. Two-time reigning champion Boulder City plays Virgin Valley for the 3A title at 3 p.m. Basic faces Bishop Gorman at 5 p.m. for the 4A title.

Palo Verde won its first regular-season matchup with Coronado on March 26. The Cougars turned the tables April 17. Clarke said with how challenging 5A was, there aren’t too many scenarios his team isn’t prepared for.

“Going through regular league play, it had a playoff feel when you go to anybody else’s home,” said Clarke, who has led Palo Verde to four state titles. “(The playoffs) are a magnified league play in a way, obviously in a bigger atmosphere and stage.”

Palo Verde swept Desert League champion Green Valley in the state semifinals after being swept by the Gators in a regular-season tournament.

Coronado knocked out two-time defending state champion Shadow Ridge in the other semifinal. The Cougars, a No. 1 seed in last year’s state playoffs, lost at home to Shadow Ridge in last season’s state semifinals.

“That was the mentality we had going into (the Shadow Ridge game), is that we didn’t want to repeat last year,” said Beyah, an assistant on last year’s team. “It was the same round, same team and a different outcome. As hard as we played, we were able to do that.”

Palo Verde lost a five-set thriller to Shadow Ridge in last year’s title game. The Panthers returned many key players from that team, including junior Dylan Ho and seniors Cole Manning and Bridger McCoy. Ho, McCoy and Manning are first, second and third, respectively, on the team in kills.

Clarke said the group was focused from the beginning of the season on getting back to the title game.

“Having so many guys that were a part of that group last year and back this year, it’s good for them to get another chance at it,” Clarke said. “This is definitely one of the most senior-heavy teams we’ve had in a while.”

Like Palo Verde, Coronado returned many key players from last year’s team. Juniors Dexter Brimhall and Dane Galvin are first and second, respectively, on the team in kills. Senior Jayden Bell is the team’s top middle blocker.

“I knew we would have a good team this year and then everyone exceeded my expectations,” Beyah said. “We kept growing and everyone just developed into much better players.”

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

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