PCHS volleyball squeezes by North Sevier at home | ParkRecord.com

PCHS volleyball squeezes by North Sevier at home

Matthew Piper, OF THE RECORD STAFF

For a Park City High School volleyball program that has known mostly turmoil in recent years, Thursday night’s come-from-behind victory against North Sevier signaled that long-overdue change might finally be in the works.

The Miners fell behind 2-1 before taking the final two games, overcoming eight-point deficits in two of their game wins. "It was a fight the entire time," said first-year coach Katie McLintock, the third PCHS varsity volleyball head coach in three years. "Tonight, I couldn’t be happier. I’m thrilled that they never gave up."

The Miners lost the first game 25-22, rallied to win the second 28-26, and then saw themselves beaten soundly 25-15 in the third. They eked out a 25-23 win after trailing in the fourth to force a decisive fifth game, which they won 15-12.

"I needed to know if they had the confidence in themselves to pull off a win tonight," McLintock said. "That was one of my fears, after last season was kind of a mess, that my girls wouldn’t have that confidence."

Junior Shelby Johnstun led the team with 12 kills and a 2.4 passing average (in volleyball, a good pass is rated a 2 and a perfect pass is a 3). The front line also got strong play from senior Ciera Figge, junior Maggie Avila, and senior Josie Karz, who each had five kills.

Senior libero Natalia Caro also received 57 serves on the back row. Setting up the attack was senior Melissa Emerson, who passed for a 2.1 average and earned five kills off dumps.

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"Melissa had a great game and was hustling on getting the ball up," McLintock said.

The Miners had lost their opening match in three games against Juan Diego on Tuesday night, but McLintock was pleased with the resilience she saw from her team. Park City was ousted in two games at last year’s state tournament, and McLintock said it’s nice to know that Tuesday’s gritty effort wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

McLintock, who is on the heels of three years of NAIA college volleyball for Westminster College in Salt Lake City, said she’s enjoying her first foray into the high school coaching ranks, particularly once the tedious administrative work is done and she gets to step on the court with her team.

"Standing on the sideline, I feel like I am playing," McLintock said. "It’s a good feeling."

She has enjoyed teaching older players than she was charged with as a club volleyball coach, and has found communication to be easier with girls not much younger than herself. McLintock said Thursday night’s win earned her some respect, but that won’t change her central message for the team this season.

"I think the most important part of playing volleyball is to have fun," she said. "I love to see my players have the passion that I had."

That positive attitude was exemplified by senior Abby Winkelman on Thursday, who kept a brave face even after the debilitating third-game loss to North Sevier.

"Her positive attitude lifted our team up in the third game," McLintock said. "I thank Abby for that."

The Miners left for St. George to play eight games this weekend after The Record went to press on Friday. McLintock said the team will likely finalize its varsity starting lineup on the trip. She’s pleased with her team’s size on the front line, which is bolstered by 6-foot-3 freshman middle hitter Hailey Whipple. Depth abounds at every position for the Miners, she said, so nothing is set in stone.

"I used a couple of different lineups tonight," she said. "It’s really just who’s going to fight for it."