North Summit grinds down Enterprise in volleyball state championship
On Saturday, North Summit High School’s girls volleyball team became the repeat Class 2A state champion after a close, protracted match against Enterprise, winning three sets to one.
The Braves entered the state tournament as Region 16’s No. 1 seed, with a record of 11-0 in region and 21-10 overall.
The Braves started the tournament by handling Draper American Preparatory Academy, region 17’s No. 5 seed, in straight sets 25-9, 25-6, 25-8, then cruised past St. Joseph, region 16’s third seed, to play Millard in the semifinals.
The Braves triumphed again, defeating the Millard (Region 18’s No. 2 seed) 25-19, 25-13, 25-15 to face Enterprise in the finals.
“We thought the whole season it was going to Enterprise,” head coach Samantha Stephens said.
Enterprise was region 18’s champion and had climbed through the state bracket, defeating Layton Christian Academy, Rowland Hall-St. Marks and Kanab in straight sets.
The Wolves were 26-7 all season and 12-0 in region play. Though North Summit had beaten them 2-0 in early October, the Braves did not write their opponent off.
“We knew it was going to be a battle, and it was,” Stephens said. “Those games could have gone either way.”
The Braves earned the first set 25-23, then fell 24-26 in the second.
At one point in the third set, the Braves were down 10-18, but came back to win 25-23.
North Summit tried to close it out in the fourth set.
“It was crazy,” Stephens said. “We were up 24-21 and I thought (it was over), but they just kept siding us out. They got a few points, then it was tied at 24 and it was just back and forth, back and forth.”
Eventually, North Summit scored two points in a row to defeat Enterprise 34-32.
Stephens described it as the closest championship match she had ever watched.
“Every game was (decided by) only two points,” Stephens said.
Throughout the tournament, Stephens said, the team played as a unit, including the bench, which she said acted as the Braves’ seventh player. Even so, senior Hunter Vernon was a standout.
“I want to say she had 63 kills and only eight errors the whole tournament, it was amazing,” Stephens said, adding that the senior has struggled through knee injuries to help the team win.
“She’s just a true leader,” Stephens said. “Not only is she awesome on the front, she’s awesome on the back. She’s a great server, a great defensive player … someone that knows the game and is a well-rounded player.”
Stephens also commended the team for coming back from an inauspicious start to the season. In the Braves’ opening match against Bingham, it lost badly to the 6A team — 25-5, 25-6, 25-8.
“We pretty much got our butts kicked, but we just kept getting better,” Stephens said.
She said the team refocused on their season, with sophomores Kennedy McQueen and Teesha Richins overcoming their inexperience to help the team win the title.
Now, with only Vernon graduating, the Braves are looking forward to next season and a shot at yet another state crown.
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In South Summit’s 11 wins last year, the Wildcats outscored their opponents by 341 points total and averaged 45 points per game.