Boys volleyball state championship
Who: No. 2 Highland vs. No. 4 Gilbert
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Gilbert HS (1101 E. Elliot Rd., Gilbert)
Records: Highland 28-6-1; Gilbert 28-6-1
How they got here: Highland defeated No. 15 Hamilton, No. 10 Perry, No. 3 Mesa; Gilbert defeated No. 20 Chandler, No. 5 Brophy, No. 1 Desert Vista.
Outlook: The gymnasium promises to be rocking for the matchup between these intra-city rivals. Highland was seen as the favorite heading into the tournament and knocked off chief contender Mesa in five games in the semifinals. The Hawks havent won a state championship since 2005 but have an illustrious history behind coach Vee Hiapo. Outside hitter Ryan Morrison leads the way, and plenty of these Highland players saw action last year as the team advanced to the state semifinals. Gilbert is the defending champion but is completely revamped, with outside hitter Jarrett Neal the only returner with significant experience from a year ago. That hasn't slowed the Tigers, as Cameron Dudley, Nick Rockwell and others have stepped up in the tournament. Gilbert defeated No. 5 Brophy in the quarterfinals and upset No. 1 Desert Vista in the semifinals to return to the championship match. Like last year, the Tigers have benefitted from the good fortune of neutral site semifinal and title matches at Gilbert, which was pre-determined. The home-court advantage should help the Tigers as it did in the regular season. The Hawks swept Gilbert at home but lost in five games at Gilbert on March 21. The Tigers have a 2-1 season edge after also beating Highland in the Brophy Invitational, although the Hawks went on to win that tournament. This has all the makings of a classic, as this showdown is not only for a state title but ultimate city bragging rights.