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Miners begin region play in a big way

On paper, the Miners and the Bulldogs were evenly matched. So when the Park City High School and Judge volleyball teams finally met on Tuesday, it wasn’t surprising that it took five games for the Miners to win 3-2.

"We were really evenly matched," said Park City assistant coach Donna Hall, who took over the reins as head coach this week while Gray Davis was away on business. "The defenses are equal. The offenses are equal. It was a question of who made the most errors."

In the first game, it took the Miners no time to establish a sizable lead. They quickly gained control with smart play, stretching the point differential to double digits by the end of the game, 25-13.

In the next game, the Bulldogs regained their composure and focus. The teams stayed neck-and-neck until the end of the game, when a few Park City mental errors allowed Judge to pull ahead 25-17.

The battle continued in the next game, with the Bulldogs again walking away on top, 25-19. Then, it was Park City’s turn, as a number of Judge mistakes allowed the Miners to run away with the game, 25-10.

In the tiebreaker, Park City had the advantage in the beginning with strong play from the front line. Then, with the Miners playing for the game point, the Bulldogs began to come back, scoring five points in a row before Park City was finally able to close out the game, 15-10.

The Miners had lost a number of close games to top teams coming into the Judge game and were happy to come away with a solid win.

"This time we dug deep," said Park City team captain Aundrea Hargroder.

According to Hall, the Miners are continuing to adjust and come together without starting outside hitters Samantha Stanger and Carina Crosby, who were knocked out of the rotation with season-ending injuries. Since then the Miners have had to find away to fill the gaps.

"The people we lost are people who could put the ball down," Hargroder said. "We’re replacing their intensity with smart play."

"We’re really coming along," Hall added.

Hall praised the play of libero Hallie McGee, who put numerous balls into play for her teammates to hit over the net. She was helped by aggressive play from Hargroder as well as front-row powerhouses Nicole Bishop and transfer student Lizzy Silverstein. With Silverstein standing six feet tall and Bishop bringing a few more inches beyond that, Park City was able to shoot down numerous Judge balls at the net. Hargroder added that Silverstein’s determination has given the team a boost.

"She has such a good attitude," Hargroder said. "She just wants to win."

The Miners got a large dose of instruction and confidence coming into this week’s games from Dusty Dvorak, father of player Stormy. Dusty played volleyball in the 1984 Olympics and stepped up to help Hall in Davis’ absence. According to Hall, Dvorak is able to see things on the court that the girls miss and the entire team looks up to him.

"They love him," she said. "It’s like hero worship."

With the Judge game Tuesday night to be followed by Region 10 powerhouse Waterford on Thursday, the Miners needed all the extra help they could get.

The win against Judge was very important for the Miners’ confidence heading into the Waterford matchup, especially with some of the team’s earlier losses.

"We were keeping the losses in perspective," said Hargroder. "Even though we were playing some of the best teams, we knew we weren’t playing to the best of our abilities It was the perfect way to start the season 1-0 against Judge."

The extra dose of confidence worked as the Miners pushed past the Waterford Ravens, again taking it to five games and winning 3-2 (25-14, 14-25, 30-28, 21-25, 10-15). The Miners won, but it was definitely hard-fought. In game three, it was so close that the two teams battled back-and forth until the Ravens finally took the game 30-28. The Miners were aided by Bishop and Silverstein’s domination on the front line. Silverstein finished the night with 17 kills and Bishop had 13. Hargroder also had a big night with 29 assists.

The Miners will continue Region 10 play with a game at on the road on Tuesday against Union at 7 p.m.


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