GILBERT - It took 10 years for the Salpointe boys volleyball team to get back to the state championship. It took a little more than an hour for seventh-seeded Mesa Mountain View to unceremoniously end the Lancers season short of their goal.
No. 1 Salpointe couldn't overcome a balanced Toros attack and unforced errors in falling Saturday 25-23, 25-18, 25-19 to Mountain View in the 5A state boys volleyball championship at Campo Verde.
"They had a big crowd, and that may have rattled us a little bit," said setter Ben Malisewski. "As soon as we settled down, we started to play. Honestly, you have to give them a lot of credit. They blocked - they were the best blocking team we have seen all year. They kept me on the move. Their serving was excellent. They were able to put two big blockers on our outside, and that gave us trouble."
Only outstanding sophomore Jimmy Gehrels - with 14 kills - seemed to have success against the Toros' defense. Lancers coach Amy Johnson said her team did not do itself any favors.
"Serving, we lost because we couldn't serve the ball," Johnson said.
Trying to explain the unforced errors, she added: "I think just lack of focus or nerves. That's what I would chalk it up to."
Johnson refused to cite travel as a possible factor - the Lancers returned to Tucson after their semifinal win Friday night and then returned to Gilbert on Saturday for the 3 p.m. title match. But she couldn't deny the emotions of her team after a couple of calls didn't go their way.
"They don't usually play in front of crowds like that," Johnson said. "I think there were some key calls that should have gone our way that didn't, and it made a big difference in the match."
For Mountain View (18-3), a frontline may not have been bigger than Salpointe's attack trio of Gehrels, Smith (eight kills) and Billy Early (six kills), but it was clicking. In winning the school's first boys volleyball title, the Toros were led by Ryan Olsen, whose 11 kills seemed to always come at the right time, killing any chance for a Salpointe rally.
In the final set, the Lancers were within 17-15, but Gehrels hit the ball long, and then Olsen blocked Gehrels to give the Toros some cushion. Olsen was called for being in the net on his next block attempt of Gehrels, but Olsen put down a hook kill, and two more Lancer errors left Salpointe down 23-18.
Salpointe (19-2) had lost in the semifinals in each of the previous three years and had only one other appearance in the final since the AIA made boys volleyball a sanctioned sport in 1995 - a loss to Phoenix Brophy in 2001.
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