Area squads play at state tourney
It was a whirlwind of upset wins, upsetting losses and big performances for Summit County’s three prep volleyball teams Park City, North Summit and South Summit at the Utah High School Volleyball Championships last weekend at Utah Valley State College.
All three teams were unexpectedly knocked out of the tournament early on, but both Park City and North Summit still placed the top eight in the state.
An early-morning draw turned out to spell disaster for the Miners in their first game of the 3A state tournament on Friday losing in four games to Grantsville 27-25, 20-25, 25-23 26-24. Head coach Ed Potts said an 8 a.m. game made things difficult for the girls. The girls were able to recover by the afternoon, beating North Sanpete in the first round of the consolation bracket later that afternoon, 23-25, 25-17, 26-24, 25-23.
"We had mental errors, but we bounced back really well against North Sanpete," Potts said.
The Miners continued their winning streak the next morning, easily beating Ben Lomond in three games, 25-22, 25-11, 25-7. Park City was without the help of some of their starters, who were a few buildings away taking college entrance exams. Potts substituted with a number of juniors who played well. He highlighted Samantha Stanger, who came into the game and committed very few errors. He also praised the serving of fellow junior Jessie Pitcher.
"Talk about a great opportunity," Potts said. "To have juniors get experience in the state tournament is great for us."
The Miners were also without the help of setter Maggie Anderson for much of the tournament. The senior suffered an ankle sprain during practice on Wednesday and was only able to serve on a limited basis, including the Ben Lomond win.
"She can serve three to four points a game," Potts said. "We let her serve that game, and she served six in a row to win the game."
The biggest kudos from Potts went to senior Sammie Baker, who led the team throughout the tournament.
"She has been flawless," Potts said after the Ben Lomond game "She has yet to make a mistake."
Baker said things just came together for her in the tournament.
"I really wanted to win," Baker said. "I tried my hardest to do everything I could."
On Saturday afternoon, Park City met up with region nemesis Wasatch, who they beat twice in the regular season. The two teams battled it out to five games, with the Miners finally losing by two points in the tie-breaker.
"It was really hard, because we beat them twice, but they’re a really great team, so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy," Baker said.
Park City finished in eighth place in the state and was among three Region 10 teams that placed in the top 10 in 3A.
"We’ve never placed this well in State since we became 3A," Potts said. "It’s great, especially because volleyball is loaded with talented players this year."
Potts said the region was the most talented in the state this year.
"We definitely had the hardest region," Baker said. "That makes you stronger as a player. I wouldn’t want to be in any other region."
The Braves survived their first-round game against Grand only to lose to South Sevier in a surprising upset, 25-15, 25-21, 26-24, on Friday. Head coach Samantha Stephens said that her team wasn’t prepared for the early exit.
"We didn’t play well against South Sevier at all," Stephens said. "We get those Southern teams and we play scared."
The loss set up a game in the consolation round against county rival South Summit on Saturday.
The Braves, who took second in Region 14 in the regular season, looked their usual selves against the Wildcats. Stephens said teamwork was the difference.
"They played with each other and supported each other," Stephens said.
That teamwork earned the girls a three-game win over South Summit, 25-12, 25-23, 25-21.
North Summit continued their winning streak into the afternoon, when they defeated Layton Christian in three games, 25-18, 25-18, 25-20. The Braves, who didn’t lose a single game on Saturday, finished fifth in the state.
Senior middle-hitter Kelly Stuart led the team, racking up the bulk of the team’s kills in the tournament, including six in the final match against Layton Christian.
"Kelly stepped up today," Stephens said.
Katie Vernon finished with eight. Amy Donaldson had nine kills.
"Amy had a rough day on Friday. She was a whole different person today," Stephens said.
Braves’ setter Janessa Williams had 26 assists and three service aces in her final game of the season.
The Wildcats may have lost in the championship bracket, but they managed to give the crowd one of the most exciting games of the tournament, pushing the eventual 2007 state champions, San Juan, to five games in the second round of play on Friday. San Juan won 25-20, 24-26, 23-25, 25-21,16-14.
"They played awesome," South Summit head coach Kristin Estes said. "We hit the ball well and everything fell into place. San Juan’s a great team. It would have been nice to have that upset."
Against San Juan, junior Amberlee Page led South Summit with 28 kills and had 17 kills against North Summit.
"She’s our go-to girl," Estes said. "She’ll do great things in volleyball."
Setter Brooke Keuser had 37 assists against San Juan and 20 against the Wildcats.
She also pointed out the efforts of senior team captain Melanie Chamberlain, who Estes said provided the best consistency on the team.
"We could count on her to handle the pressure," Estes said.
The Wildcats lost in the morning game on Saturday against North Summit. Estes said North Summit was better prepared.
"I think North Summit was ready to play this morning," Estes said. "North Summit went out and did what they had to do."
She suspected some of her team’s inconsistency stemmed from the San Juan game the day before. She said her squad was a little physically drained.
"We just got beat," Estes said. "They played better."
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