Returning four of six starters from a year ago, the Catalina Foothills boys volleyball team was perfect through six sets on Saturday in winning the two-day TUSD Invitational.
The Falcons topped Catalina in straight sets (25-19, 25-22) in the finals of the 16-team tournament hosted by Cholla.
"I like our team this year," Foothills coach David Thistle said with a grin. "It's a good group. We still have a long ways to go, but I thought we did really, really well."
With the help of senior setter Matt Klewer the Falcons never trailed. He had 17 assists, four kills, two blocks and two digs.
"We know that last year we had a little bit of a letdown after all expected to go further in the tournament," said Klewer on last year's fifth-place finish. "This year we know where we want to go, and we know how to get there. Today we showed that."
Led by sophomore Cole Kowalski, Catalina finished the final on a 4-1 run before giving up match point to Foothills.
"Scrappy would be the word," said Catalina coach Heather Moore-Martin. "That's one thing I noticed this weekend. This team fights hard whether we're winning or losing. We just care about winning the next ball."
Foothills swept Rincon/University, then Sahuaro to reach the finals; Catalina got past Flowing Wells and Marana to earn a shot at the Falcons in the championship match.
With just two returning starters highlighted by junior Arthur Gibson, the Cougars edged Marana in back-to-back sets (25-22, 25-20) for third place. Sahuaro won the tournament last season.
"We had a lot of kills, a lot of blocks, big plays all around by everyone," said Gibson. "We got a lot better, and we grew a ton as a team today."
Rincon/University defeated Desert Christian for fifth place, and Cienega beat Flowing Wells for seventh in the championship bracket.
Palo Verde made quick work of Sabino for the consolation championship (25-20, 25-17) after surviving three sets against Tucson in the consolation semifinals.
Canyon del Oro proved too much for Tucson, taking home third place in the consolation bracket; Desert View finished in fifth place with a win over Pueblo; and Sunnyside secured seventh place with a victory over Amphitheater.