Mountain View High School has had no shortage of regional and / or state championship banners hanging from its gymnasium rafters..

At the Mountain Lions' boys' volleyball team practice on Monday, 28 banners commemorating those achievements fluttered lightly above the spikers and setters.

None of them are for boys volleyball. For Mountain View senior Richie Hamm, it's the one missing banner that's most important.

"You know, I don't think we've ever won one of those," said Hamm slowly, staring up at the ceiling.

As tournament time nears, Hamm and his teammates want to fill the ceiling space.

"Oh yeah," he said.

After missing out on a bid to last year's state tournament, the Mountain Lions are in a good position to make this year's competition.

"We should make state this year," said first-year coach Matt Dyck. "We need to win one out of our last two games."

Mountain View is ranked 14th statewide by the Arizona Interscholastic Association with a regular season / invitational record of 12-10 at press time. The top 16 teams earn a state invitation.

For Dyck, future playoff success will a simple strategy.

"We're just trying to get better every day," said Dyck. "That's our only focus."

The team has bought into that philosophy.

"The kids work hard," said Dyck. "And they're fun to be around."

The Mountain Lions' blend of loose camaraderie (complete with Family Guy references) and high-speed practice drills seems to be paying off.

In the team's most recent match, a 3-2 loss to #8 Salpointe, Hamm notched 17 kills, junior Chris Darris had 36 assists and sophomore Scott Jenks finished with 14 digs, while taking the higher-ranked team down to the wire.

"(In the loss, Hamm) was by far our best player," said Dyck. "Scott Jenks has done a nice job for being a sophomore, and Chris Darris has done a good job for being a junior."

If one of these players has an off game, Mountain View is "pretty well-balanced," according to the coach.

The Mountain Lions are hoping that balance will help them to a winning finish when their regular season ends at Sunnyside this Thursday, but win or lose, Dyck is happy with his first year with Mountain View.

"It's a fun staff, it's a great administration," said Dyck. "This season has been great."

"As far as having a young group of guys, having three freshmen on varsity and only one senior, they've done a fantastic job," said Dyck. "We should be good here for many years to come."

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