While barely breaking a sweat and needing to clear the court early, Notre Dame was impressive in its first state tournament appearance since 2007.
The eighth-seeded Saints barely needed an hour to eliminate No. 9 Tucson Cholla, 25-14, 25-14, 25-19, Monday night in the first round of the 4A-2A state boys volleyball tournament.
It was a good thing, too, since the school had scheduled a fundraiser for the gym.
Notre Dame advances to Wednesday’s quarterfinals but must play at No. 1 Tucson Catalina Foothills.
“If we play like this, I think we can give anyone a run,” Notre Dame coach Mike Mahon said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
"Any team that sees that 8-seed and underestimates us is going to be in trouble," Versen said.
The Saints dominated the smaller Chargers, who were making their first boys’ volleyball state tournament appearance in seven years. Cholla never found its offensive rhythm while Notre Dame continually found Wil Barton (11 kills) and Versen (10 kills, 5 blocks) to put plenty of pressure on the Chargers.
Notre Dame took control early and was ahead two games before Cholla got any kind of momentum.
"We played well and they were off," Mahon said. "You could tell they were off. Whether it was us making plays and frustrating them, they were off a little bit. You could tell."
The Chargers finally got a lead to open the third set, get the ball to their big guns in senior outside hitter Miguel Arandules – one of the top hitters in southern Arizona -- David Sotelo and Anthony Gavaldon,
"Cholla is a decent squad so to beat them in three is just unbelievable," said Saints’ leading hitter Barton.
Cholla grabbed an early lead but miscues allowed Notre Dame to quickly even the game at 5-5.
Arandules’ 10th kill gave Cholla its last lead, 13-12, before the Saints ran off six straight points and knocked down any chance of a Charger rally.
Notre Dame outside hitter Ian Waugaman had a kill and then Wil Barton added a kill and blocks on Sammer Miqbel and Manny Avalos during the run.
Cholla had beaten Notre Dame during the Mountain View tournament early in the season.
"We played them once earlier in the year and the result was completely the opposite," Cholla coach Kellin Lovegren said. "We didn’t play up to our potential and they played very well. It’s state and you have to play at our best."