Miners ground the Ravens
October 10, 2008
Three games and an hour. That’s all it took for the Miners to beat the Waterford Ravens in volleyball on the road on Tuesday night, 25-17, 25-20, 25-20.
It was a pleasant surprise in a matchup that has always been a bit daunting for the Miners. Last year, especially when the Ravens won the region championship, and again this year when the Ravens beat the Miners at the St. George Tournament and later when they took Park City to five games before the Miners finally triumphed by just a few points.
"After last time, we knew what our weaknesses were, what went wrong with our game," Park City coach Donna Hall said.
According to senior setter Aundrea Hargroder, when the girls walked onto the Ravens’ court there was some anxiety. The Miners, who are undefeated in Region 10 and are a lock for the region title, knew they had the ability to beat the Ravens. Still, after last time’s five-game struggle, they weren’t sure how easy it would be.
"Even in our first game, we thought they could beat us," said Hargroder, who led the team with four kills, 24 assists, three serving aces and five digs. "It felt really good to beat them in three games."
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According to Hall, it’s the girls’ ability to communicate. She explained that for weeks they have been working on their skills at their different positions as well as working on their confidence. The only thing left was teamwork and communication.
Over the weekend, the team was at the Highland High School Tournament with a number of 5A and other programs. The one thing they saw again and again from the best teams was good communication skills from the best teams. It was then and there that the Miners decided that if they were going to stay undefeated, they needed to start talking more in order to work well together.
"Before, we weren’t talking," Hall said. "Now, we are becoming more of a unit."
She said the improved communication meant that the girls knew where each was on the court, which helped their teamwork and significantly cut down on errors.
They were also ready for anything Waterford sent their way. Last time the two teams met, the Ravens were able to get a lot of points from tips over the net. This time, the Miners’ defense was ready to reject the tips. Up front, Lizzie Silverstein and Nicole Bishop were a force to be reckoned with. Bishop had 15 kills and four blocks and Silverstein had six kills, one block and four digs. Also contributing to the team’s success were Courtney Hoyt with two kills, two serving aces and three digs, Jessi Pitcher with four digs and libero Hallie Magee with 15 digs.
They also seemed to turn on the energy when they needed it to maintain the upper hand over Waterford.
"We’ve developed a confidence where we can play average, but still turn it on and beat a team," Hargroder said.
The Miners’ progression towards this kind of dominance has taken a while. Hargroder said that last year, the girls, who were on the junior varsity squad then, went undefeated, and they knew they had something special going, but it took until the last few games this year for them to truly believe in their talents.
"We knew we had the potential," she said.
Now, Hall said that the girls are eager to practice and improve and have put petty arguments and catty competitiveness aside. Their reward will come soon, in the form of their first region championship since 1986.
A game scheduled for Friday is the final regular season game senior night against Union. Then it’s on to the playoffs, where the Miners could go farther than ever before. Hargroder said that the team watched 3A perennial powerhouses Morgan and Carbon at the Highland Tournament and felt a new sense of confidence against even those squads.
"We realized if we play our game, we can beat anyone," she said.