West Valley Preps
For the second time, West Valley Preps has seen enough games in the 2019 season to put together a boys volleyball team of the top players in the Northwest Valley, and this year we added a Southwest Valley school — Millennium.
Please note these positions may not be the exact role each player was in all season but it is a position they are listed for. The teams are:
OH — DeAndre Wade, senior, Kellis
OH — Austin McKee, junior, Millennium
OH — James Hansen, senior, Sunrise Mountain
MB — Nathan Schrade, senior, Deer Valley
S — Nathan Avitia, sophomore, Millennium
L — John Estrada, senior, Liberty
OH — Nathan Chapparo, senior, Deer Valley
OH — Ben Nguyen, senior, Deer Valley
OH — Nate Guzman, junior, Ironwood
MB — Oskar Kozieja, junior, Millennium
S — Garrett Moore, senior, Mountain Ridge
L — Mathew Holmes, junior, Ironwood
Underclassmen to watch
Centennial: Michael Wright, Soph., OH; Ironwood: Will Haskell, Soph., OH; Mountain Ridge: Grant Rosinski, Soph., MB; Northwest Christian: Broc Hansen, Fr., L, Ben Strawn, Soph., MB; Shadow Ridge: Aidan Volkman, Soph., L. Sunrise Mountain: Kyle Berger, Fr., S, Radu Iosifescu, Soph., MB; Willow Canyon: Marquis Kelly, Soph., OPP.
Player of the Year
DeAndre Wade, Kellis — By the numbers, Wade did not lead Arizona in kills. But look a bit deeper to get the true measure of his dominance at the net. Wade averaged 6.2 kills per set. Verrado’s Stirling Sims is next, at 4.7 kills a set. And Wade’s dominance of this category is not just a product of his high usage rate, as he put down 53.6 percent of his kill attempts. Simply put, Wade was the most dominant offensive weapon in the West Valley — even though teams knew the ball was headed to him two/thirds of the time.
Runner-up: Nathan Avitia, Millennium — The Tigers were the most consistently competitive boys volleyball team in the West Valley and Avitia’s ability to direct a diverse attack. The sophomore, even more than his young teammates, played beyond his years to lead the Tigers’ turnaround. The only Arizona players to average more assists per set were the setters of the two state champions, Trey Weinstein of Chandler and Tyler Poulsen of Gilbert Campo Verde. And they’re both seniors.
Coach of the Year
Shawn Brannick, Millennium: While the Tigers took off after moving down from 6A, this year would have seen a jump regardless of conference. Despite having only one senior in his playing rotation, Brannick had built this team to mature into a force this year. Millennium did, beating runner up Marana Mountain View and 6A power Mesa in tournament play, and clinching the Phoenix Region title by fending off favorite Deer Valley in the Skyhawks’ home gym. Brannick’s team was closer to a state title than the bracket suggests. Millennium led eventual 5A champ Campo Verde two sets to none in its quarterfinal in Gilbert before falling in extra points in the fifth set. That near miss will only motivate this talented and tall group more. Millennium should enter next spring as the 5A favorite, with only Queen Creek Casteel having close to the Tigers’ depth of returning talent.
Runner-up: Marcy Robb, Ironwood — Truthfully, thanks to a minor car crash scuttling plans to cover the Eagles’ play in game with Prescott, and another mix up, West Valley Preps thought Lisa Lopez was Ironwood’s new coach. Instead, Marcy Robb is still there, doing what she does nearly every year, converting athletes from other sports into solid volleyball players. And this year’s boys volleyball team performed like a Marcy Robb team, saving its best for last. With only a handful of volleyball veterans, the Eagles started slow. Ironwood showed its promise by finishing second in the Peoria district tournament to Kellis. Entering the 5A tournament play-in as the No. 16 seed, Robb’s team came alive, sweeping Prescott and heading south to stun top seed Rincon in four sets. Ironwood pushed Casteel in all three sets, and has plenty coming back for another playoff run in 2020.