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Lancers’ Tunnell envisions state title this year

Citizen Staff Writer
HIGH SCHOOL BOYS VOLLEYBALL

RAYMOND SUAREZ

rsuarez@tucsoncitizen.com

Salpointe Catholic High School boys volleyball setter Pat Tunnell is hoping his senior season is a special one.

Tunnell wants a Class 4A/5A Division I state championship in 2009 after coming close in his three previous attempts.

Last year the No. 1-seeded Lancers fell to No. 4 Anthem Boulder Creek in four games in the state semifinals. The two previous years, Salpointe lost in the quarterfinals.

“Last year was surprising and we made it pretty far,” Tunnell said. “This year we want to be the surprise team again. If we’re there, especially in the state title game, I’ll make sure we won’t lose.”

Tunnell and the Lancers play their first match at home, against Sabino, at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Tunnell started playing volleyball at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic school in seventh grade.

He felt Salpointe needed a setter when he arrived and said he set that as his goal.

Tunnell participated in golf for four years and basketball his freshman and senior year. Basketball was cut short for Tunnell this year after he pulled his quadriceps muscle in his right leg. He says it won’t cause a problem during volleyball season.

On the court, Tunnell’s worst enemy can be himself at times but he’s acknowledged that the team comes first.

“I feel things should just happen,” Tunnell said. “Getting frustrated isn’t going to get anything done. Last year at the start of the season, I didn’t want to be on the court, I didn’t feel people cared and then I saw our improvement.

“I know this team will be a lot like last year.”

Coach Amy Johnson said Tunnell’s biggest improvement since he’s been on the team is his accuracy and his sense of the court.

“He’s done a really good job of making hitters look good,” Johnson said. “Kids that play strive to be like Pat.”

Tunnell’s brother, Scott, graduated from Salpointe in 2007.

Pat said he learned a lot and gained plenty of experience playing with the upperclassmen in his first two years with the Lancers.

“I used to be wide-eyed because they were so good and they jumped high,” Tunnell said.

“Now, I’m kind of at that level. I see things a lot clearer.”

Tunnell will play volleyball next year for the University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

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