Boys volleyball state tournament breakdown
The bracket has been revealed for the boys volleyball state tournament, which begins on Saturday and finishes with the title match on May 11. The first two rounds are both played on Saturday, with the first round matchups taking place in the home gym of the team which has the corresponding top-8 bye. The winner of the first round then plays the top-8 team for a berth in the quarterfinals.
Saturday schedule (first-round games at 12 p.m.; second-round games at 3:30 p.m.): No. 17 Sandra Day O’Connor vs. No. 16 Catalina (winner plays No. 1 Desert Vista); No. 24 Liberty vs. No. 9 Deer Valley (winner plays No. 8 Salpointe); No. 21 Desert View vs. No. 12 Mountain View (winner plays No. 5 Brophy); No. 20 Chandler vs. No. 13 Sahuaro (winner plays No. 4 Gilbert); No. 19 Mountain Pointe vs. No. 14 Centennial (winner plays No. 3 Mesa); No. 22 Westwood vs. No. 11 Catalina Foothills (winner plays No. 6 Boulder Creek); No. 23 Cienega vs. No. 10 Perry (winner plays No. 7 Rincon); No. 18 Ironwood Ridge vs. No. 15 Hamilton (winner plays No. 2 Highland).
Best draw: Desert Vista – The Thunder went undefeated to clinch the No. 1 seed, but Highland and Mesa are both seen as slightly stronger teams based on their performances in tournaments (which don’t count for power points). The Thunder are on the opposite side of the bracket as both those teams, and avoids Brophy or Gilbert until the semifinals, so they must be feeling good about their chances.
Toughest draw: Highland – The Hawks are looking at a potential second-round match against Hamilton, a quarterfinal match against Perry and the semifinals against Mesa. Highland beat the Jackrabbits in three games to end the regular season to move up to No. 2 in the tournament bracket, but wasn’t rewarded with a good path.
Analysis: Unfortunately, the top two teams this year, Mesa and Highland, are on the same side of the bracket. It would have been preferable for them to possibly face off in the title match, but instead will meet in the semifinals if they both make it that far. This opens the door for teams like Brophy, Gilbert and Desert Vista to make a run in the top half of the bracket. The Tigers are the defending champions and this gives them a better road to a repeat, but Desert Vista should be considered the favorite to reach the title match. Highland is a slight overall favorite to win it all, but Mesa and Desert Vista are right there. Perry and Mountain View are probably the two teams outside the top-8 most likely to make a run to the quarterfinals.