Silverado takes aim at regional crown

There’s no substitute for experience.

At least that’s what Silverado boys volleyball coach Eric Drum is hoping.

The Skyhawks (17-3) return three full-time starters from last year’s Sunrise Regional title team, and Drum said he hopes that will help the squad deal with the rigors of playing in this year’s tournament, which begins today at Silverado.

“Dealing with how they feel through the week is part of the process,” said Drum. “They’re playing at night, but they’re thinking about it all the time. I hope the fact that they have a little bit of experience comes through and gives us a little bit of an edge. But other teams are experienced, as well.”

The Skyhawks play Desert Pines (7-7) at 8 tonight. In today’s other quarterfinal matches, Eldorado (8-9) plays Green Valley (14-6) at 3:30, Canyon Springs (10-5) plays Coronado (11-8) at 5, and Las Vegas (15-3) plays Basic (11-7) at 6:30.

The Sunrise semifinals are scheduled for Thursday, with the championship match set for 5 p.m. Friday.

The Skyhawks went 14-0 in the Southeast Division, but Drum still expects division rivals Green Valley and Coronado to contend for the regional crown, along with Northeast champ Las Vegas.

“In our region, I think there are four very, very good teams, and any one of them could win,” Drum said.

Still, Silverado has to be considered the favorite.

“We’re playing some of our best volleyball,” Drum said.

The Sunset Regional begins Wednesday at Silverado, and several teams appear capable of capturing the crown.

Centennial earned the top seed out of the Northwest Division on a tiebreaker, but Palo Verde and Shadow Ridge also finished 12-2 in the league.

Any of those three teams could win the title, and Southwest Division champ Bonanza, which was second in the tournament last year, could contend as well.

“We’ve had pretty competitive matches where if you don’t bring your best game, you’re not going to be in that match,” Centennial coach Scott Nelson said. “Our division is a very strong division this year. Time will tell if that’s going to be a benefit.”

Defending state champ Palo Verde (17-2) opens the Sunset tournament against Sierra Vista (13-7) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Shadow Ridge (18-2) plays Spring Valley (10-5) at 5, Centennial (17-2) plays Clark (6-9) at 6:30, and Arbor View (11-7) plays Bonanza (14-6) at 8.

The Sunset semifinals also will be Thursday, with the final scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.

Nelson said Palo Verde, which features one of the top players in the country in Joe Kauliakamoa, has come on down the stretch as it prepares to defend its title.

“They’re the defending state champions,” Nelson said. “They recognize that late in the year is the time to play your best.”

The top two teams from each tournament advance to next week’s state tournament, also at Silverado.

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