For an “underdog,” the No. 1 seed doesn’t exactly fit the bill.

“Little” Seton Catholic, which has been trying to play with the big boys, played the big role on Thursday and didn’t falter on its way to a spot in the state final.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” said outside hitter Andrew Betlach. “This past four years, we have left everything on the court. They have never given up. It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears and I mean that, literally.”

With boys volleyball split into two divisions, Seton this year became the class of Division II and has lost just two sets in three state tournament matches, beating No. 4 Horizon Honors 26-24, 25-27, 25-20, 25-19, on Thursday night in the semifinals at Campo Verde.

The Sentinels (41-4) will meet No. 3 Glendale Ironwood in the state championship on Saturday afternoon at Mesquite. Ironwood needed a big fourth-set rally to get past No. 2 Vail Cienega 25-22, 15-25, 21-25, 32-30, 15-4, in the first semifinal on Thursday.

In the nightcap, Seton found a stubborn Horizon Honors, likely the smallest school in the tournament with about 400 students. So much for the Seton underdog story line. The parochial school in Chandler has more than 600 students, and has made some noise in the postseason. Last year, Seton reached the round of 16, before being swept by eventual state champion Hamilton.

With the target now the Sentinels’ backs, Horizon Honors (23-4) stayed with Seton most of the night, with the all-around play of Trevor Weary, a 6-foot-7 junior who hits from everywhere, can pass and even set if need be.

“We’re used to being the underdog, we’re a small school,” Betlach said. “We’ve always been seen as Seton, that small Catholic school, ‘that’s not a force to be reckoned with.’ We come out here, go undefeated in the regular season, won the Notre Dame tournament. Now we are a force to be reckoned with.”

On Thursday, Weary (25 kills, 6 blocks) kept his team in the game after the teams split the first two sets. Horizon Honors even ran out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth set before Seton stringed together a couple of runs to take control. Horizon Honors nearly erased a 19-12 deficit, getting within 19-17 but Betlach had three key kills in the lategoing and Seton held on.

“I knew we could hang with them,” Horizon Honors coach Lisa Barlow said. “I knew the match could go either way. They have great firepower but if we have all of our firepower, we could stay with them. You never know.”

Weary is the hub, Barlow said, as the best hitter, blocker and passer on the team. He just needed a little more help on Thursday.

“A couple of our hitters didn’t have their best match,” Barlow said. “When we played Mesquite (in the quarterfinals Tuesday), we were on all cylinders. Tonight, not so much.”

As it was, the top seed advanced to the final.

“It’s our first time there, we want to take advantage of it,” Seton coach Nick Price said. “We’re the No. 1 seed, we are going to keep it that way.”

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