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Focus essential for Centennial

Centennial boys volleyball coach Scott Nelson knows the other three teams in the Class 4A state tournament all have their strengths, and he considers each capable of challenging for a state title.

But Nelson said he hopes his players aren’t worried about their potential opponents. He wants his team thinking about concentrating on its own strengths.

“I think we more than anything need to try to stay focused on what it is that makes us good,” Nelson said. “We can’t totally control what the other team brings at us, but we can certainly control the things on our side of the net.”

The Sunset Regional champion Bulldogs (20-2) are set to play Sunrise runner-up Las Vegas (17-4) in the first semifinal at 5 p.m. today at Silverado. Sunrise champ Silverado (20-3) will play Shadow Ridge (20-3) in the other semifinal at 7.

Wednesday’s championship match is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Silverado.

Nelson’s team finished the regular season strong to take the Northwest Division’s top playoff seed, and it managed to get through a rugged Sunset Regional that featured 2006 state champion Palo Verde along with a strong Shadow Ridge squad.

The Bulldogs beat the Mustangs 25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 25-18 for the regional title, but the teams split during the regular season and Nelson knows Shadow Ridge could be his squad’s toughest competition at state.

Then again, so could Las Vegas or Silverado.

“Shadow Ridge is always a threat to us, as well as Las Vegas. They won two years ago, so they know what it’s like,” Nelson said. “And Silverado, they seemed to get stronger with each match in the regional tournament. I’d say its a tossup.”

After needing five games to defeat Coronado in the Sunrise semifinals, Silverado swept Las Vegas in the championship game.

Skyhawks coach Eric Drum said he hopes his team brings the same attitude to the state tournament that it had in its final Sunrise match.

“On Friday, we knew we had some games left and we just came out and played very loose and relaxed,” Drum said. “The first two rounds, I think we were a little uptight. We’ve got to do that again tomorrow, play with nothing to lose.”

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