Looking to make their sixth semifinals appearance in eight years, the visiting Salpointe Catholic boys volleyball team came up short against top-seeded Phoenix Desert Vista in the Division I state tournament, losing to the host Thunder in straight sets (25-18, 25-20, 25-22) on Tuesday.

"We just didn't have it tonight," Lancers coach Amy Johnson said. "We couldn't seem to get into a rhythm offensively."

The only Tucson team of eight to survive the first two rounds of play on Saturday, No. 8 Salpointe (25-11) spent the majority of Tuesday trying to overcome a four- to six-point deficit but was kept at arm's length in all three sets by Desert Vista (34-6-1).

"We couldn't handle their middles," Johnson said. "They had a lot of kills and we had a lot of defensive breakdowns."

Down 23-17 in the third, the Lancers almost stole a set after a late 5-1 run made it 24-22.

"It was a set we probably should have had," Johnson said. "We made a run, then they caught us. We made another run, and they caught us again."

One of the state's leading passers, senior Austin Leeser recorded 29 of the Lancer's 32 assists. Fellow seniors Jimmy Gehrels and Billy Early finished 1-2 in kills for Salpointe with 13 and 11, respectively.

"I'm incredibly proud of my team," Johnson said. "They never gave up."