Sahuaro and Rincon/University matched each other nearly point for point and into a 10-10 tie early in the championship match of the TUSD Invitational on Saturday.
It had all the makings of another nail-biting three-set contest.
But then Sahuaro fired off an 8-0 run and never trailed again on its way to a 2-0 (25-16, 25-14) win over the Rangers to win the 16-team tournament hosted by Sabino High School.
"We had a couple of big blocks and after that it seemed Rincon kind of let down mentally and we took over," Sahuaro coach Sandy Novak said.
The Cougars won three games on Saturday to capture the tournament title for the first time since 2009.
Catalina, the two-time defending state champion, had won the tournament the past two years but lost to Catalina Foothills in the fifth-place match.
Sahuaro (7-0) opened the day with a win over Foothills in the quarterfinals and then a victory over Tucson High in the semifinals. Both of those matches lasted three sets and had the Cougars nearly running on fumes.
But Sahuaro senior Nick Valverde said nothing was going to get in the way of winning.
"We just came out and knew it was the championship and needed to pull it together," Valverde said. "We were all tired at just had to do it."
Senior Nic Bley secured the 25-14 win in the second set when he slammed a kill to the middle of the floor on match point.
"It was a great team win. Our passers were doing great. Everybody was playing great," Bley said.
"It was a tough emotional tournament, and we ran out of gas at the end," Rincon coach Jeff Beran said, "but you've got to give credit to Sahuaro, they were hitting on all cylinders."