North Summit wins first-ever state championship
November 1, 2016
In North Summit High School's 102-year history, never has its girls' volleyball program competed in a state championship match, not to mention win one. That changed in the school's 103rd year.
It happened over the weekend when the Braves, who were led by Ashlin Blonquist and Hunter Vernon with 43 kills between them, secured their first-ever state title in four sets — 25-22, 24-26, 25-9, 25-22 — over rival South Summit in the UHSAA 2A state championship in the UCCU Center at UVU.
"[Winning the state title] was awesome," Head Coach Samantha Stephens said. "The girls just worked really hard. They set [the state title] as a goal at the beginning of the season and they never looked back. … I'm just so proud of them and just so happy they were able to accomplish their goals."
With the win, North Summit finished the regular season with a 32-3 record. Its three losses came from the hands of 3A opponents. The Braves defeated every 2A team it faced during the season and postseason, making this one of the most dominant single-season runs for a Utah volleyball team in recent memory.
"A lot of teams maybe have one or two great players, but really we have six out there at a time," Stephens said. "If one wasn't maybe playing her best, someone else could step up. That's what was really great [about our team]."
This wasn't the first time North Summit stood opposite of South Summit in a match, considering the schools are rivals. In fact, Saturday night's final was the fourth time the two teams met this season, with the previous three regular-season matches ending in a three-set sweep for the Braves.
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The state championship was on the line this time, though, and Stephens and company knew this wouldn't be the same South Summit team from the regular season. The Wildcats, who upset top-seeded San Juan earlier in the state tournament, were rolling into the championship match with hopes of stealing the crown from their rivals.
It was even more evident that South Summit wouldn't go quietly after it tied the match up 1-1 after stealing the second set. How did the Braves respond after surrendering their first set to the Wildcats all season long? By dominating the third set by not allowing them to reach double digits.
"It's tough to play a team when you've already played them that many times because they know who you're going to [and] they know where people hit," Stephens said. "I really feel like they have gotten better every time we played them. It was just kind of sweet to beat them."
Stephens was happy her team met South Summit in the final, and not just so the Braves could get one last shot at their rivals.
"It's good for the North, because it's usually always the southern teams that are playing for [the state championship]," Stephens said.
After the Brave faithful made the trip to Orem to support the girls' volleyball team at the state tournament, the team was welcomed back to Coalville in style. With three fire trucks leading them through town, and what Stephens believes to be at least 100 cars following, the North Summit girls' volleyball team, with trophy in hand, was celebrated for its accomplishment.
"The whole town was flashing their lights for us and honking their horn as we past their houses," Stephens said. "It was amazing the support we had. When I looked out in the crowd when we started our game, it was purple everywhere. Even people that don't have kids in high school anymore, they were just there to support the Braves."
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