The two teams that dominated the 5A boys volleyball landscape this season fittingly met in the final on Friday night and gave fans from both sides a match to remember.
Top-seed Cienega reached back for just a tad extra and prevailed in five sets, 25-16, 20-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-11 at Mesquite High School. Cienega finished the season with 24 consecutive wins and did not lose a match to a 5A opponent.
It's the first boys volleyball title for Cienega (37-4) and eighth boys volleyball title for a Tucson school in the better than two decades of competition in the sport. Cienega coach Heather Mott became the sixth coach from the area to pilot a championship team. Horizon Honors (30-5) had won 24 matches in a row and hadn't dropped a single set in that streak until this match. The Eagles, too, did not lose to another 5A school until Friday's title bout.
Cienega, which seemed to be on its way to a 2-0 lead, ran head long into Horizon Honors senior standout Trevor Weary in the latter stages of the second set. Horizon Honors erased a five-point deficit in the second set and won the third, putting Cienega in a 2-1 hole. They recovered and Mott knows why.
"We have 12 boys with a lot of heart,'" Mott said. "All 12 of them worked so hard this season, and in the end we had contributions from all over."
Senior opposite Alex Muszynski led Cienega's attack with 17 kills, senior middle Skyler Cavanaugh collected 16 kills and setter McLain Mott chipped in 13 along with 41 assists. Cavanaugh's production was pronounced in the final two sets. He had five kills among Cienega's final seven points in the fourth set win.
Then in the fifth set -- with Horizon Honors taking 7-4 and 10-7 leads -- Muszynski, Cavanaugh, Ethan Iago and McLain Mott took turns putting the ball down to finally overcame the usual huge night from Weary. McLain Mott's first kill of the final set tied the score at 10. Mott added one more kill, and Iago two of Cienega's final three points. Cavanaugh brought on the championship celebration with a thunderous winner.
Weary, who is on his way to Grand Canyon University this fall on scholarship, finished his career with a 35-kill effort. He had 10 in the second set --most of those late - to draw Horizon Honors even at 1-1
Horizon Honors coach Lisa Barlow hated to see the season end with a loss.
"We just couldn't close it out,"" Barlow said. "It was a great season. We lose eight seniors. When you play a solid team it takes a lot to win. It really could have gone either way. We'll hate to lose Trevor. He leads the state in kills (more than 500) and can do it all."