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SUNSET REGION: Evans flies high as Bengals top Palo Verde

Parker Evans has flown a little under the radar on Bonanza’s boys volleyball team, with opponents keying on 6-foot-8-inch middle blocker Price Jarman.

He may not be underestimated anymore.

Evans had 16 kills and 14 digs — including the final three kills of the match — as the Bengals outlasted Palo Verde, 25-18, 15-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-6 on Thursday in a Sunset Region semifinal at Las Vegas High.

The Bengals (20-0) will face defending state champion Shadow Ridge (15-5) in the region final at 7 p.m. Friday at Las Vegas.

The Panthers (15-5) closed off the middle for the early half of the game, using a lineup of six players standing 6-2 or taller to effectively shut down Jarman and the other middle blockers for most of the first three sets.

That made Evans decide to go to work.

“It was kind of upsetting when we couldn’t get a kill, couldn’t put it away,” said Evans, who had eight kills in the first three sets. “But we kept up our attitudes and stayed positive. We got our passes down, and even though they started getting in serves on us, we just hit our own game and then came back and started killing it.”

Jarman finished with 16 kills, 15 digs and four blocks, but much of his damage was relegated to late in the match. He had five kills and two blocks in the fifth set.

“They kept setting Price a lot, and then triple-blocking him,” Evans said. “They were always on top of him. But once (setter Craig Whiting) started pushing out the sets to the pins, we got Price back open and started playing well, just getting kills everywhere.”

Whiting had 44 assists for Bonanza, pushing the ball more to Evans and outside hitters Cru Leavitt and Jared Hyer to take advantage of the defense. Leavitt finished with 11 kills and 13 digs, and Hyer added 11 kills and eight digs for the Bengals.

Evans, a 6-1 opposite hitter, knows much of the attacking onus falls on him when teams go after the middle.

“I’ve got to step up my game when the middles can’t do their job,” Evans said. “But I trust everyone on my team. When someone’s getting shut down, I trust the setter to make smarter sets and push them out to the pins. I just have to hit harder, play smarter and put the ball right where you want it. You just have to play your game.”

Kenny DeSoto had 23 digs for Bonanza.

Brandon King had 16 kills, 16 digs and five blocks to pace Palo Verde, which had 14 blocks.

“Palo completely took us out of our game plan, and it was a barnburner,” said Bonanza coach Joe Cap, whose team advanced to its first state tournament since 2006. “As a coach, these games are the most stressful — but they’re fun, especially when you’re on this end of it.”

Sean Wilson had 27 assists, six kills and three blocks for the Panthers, and Trent Gneiting added nine kills and five digs. Pat Morrison had 18 digs for Palo Verde.

Shadow Ridge 3, Centennial 1 — Justin Kent had 12 kills and nine digs to help the Mustangs rally to stun the top-seeded Bulldogs, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23, 27-25.

Cody Tesoro supplied 37 digs for Shadow Ridge, which got 10 kills from Brandon Fisher and three blocks apiece from Quinn Skouson and Collin Johnson.

Braden Taylor had 14 assists, and Jalen Makaiwi distributed 13 assists for the Mustangs.

Leo Durkin notched 26 assists, 12 kills, two blocks and two aces to fuel Centennial (16-4), which took the No. 1 seed from the Northwest League into the playoffs.

Dustin Buell had 10 kills for the Bulldogs, and teammate Mike Robinson added 24 assists and six kills.

Josh Arias had 43 digs and two aces for Centennial.

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