Junior outside hitter Ryan Callaghan led the way for the Lancers with 18 kills as the Salpointe Catholic boys volleyball team edged out visiting Phoenix Mountain Pointe to remain undefeated at home.
Six days after losing to the Pride in Phoenix at the Brophy Invitational, the Lancers returned the favor, shutting out Mountain Pointe 3-0 (29-27, 25-23, 25-21).
"Usually when we play Phoenix schools, we have to adjust to their speed," Callaghan said. "Once we get a feel for a team, the second time we know their tendencies and are able to execute better than before."
Salpointe managed to finish fourth at Brophy despite being without senior captain Jimmy Gehrels. The outside hitter and Pepperdine commit has been out six weeks with a small fracture in his left ankle, and he was just cleared to begin practicing again on Wednesday.
"I think we can take state." Callaghan said. "We're getting people back, we're starting to click and people aren't expecting us."
The 6-foot-7-inch Callaghan was second in the state in kills per set coming into the match, averaging 3.9. He outdid that Thursday with 18.
Callaghan came up big all night for Salpointe, which won by a combined eight points in three sets. He had four consecutive kills to tie the second set at 21 and had a monster kill to the right side to win the match.
"Throughout the season I've tried to step up as a leader and give my team stretches like that to help us pull ahead," Callaghan said.
With a regional record of 9-1, Salpointe can't help but be focused on Phoenix teams. Each of the Lancers' eight state tournament exits has come at the hands of a team from the Phoenix area.
The Lancers (20-10) have played three of the four semifinal teams from last year, hoping to toughen themselves after last year's first-round tournament exit. Of Salpointe's 22 all-time postseason opponents, 20 have been from the Phoenix area.
"We got a really good idea over the weekend," Lancers coach Amy Johnson said. "We've seen all the top teams in state. I think it's anybody's tournament."