PCHS volleyball advances in first round state playoffs by sweeping East
It had been one week since the Park City volleyball team had played a match, so it would’ve been understandable if the Miners came out a bit sluggish in their opening game of the Class 5A postseason Tuesday night.
That never happened.
The No. 5 Miners, playing at home, swept No. 28 East 3-0, advancing in the state tournament. Now, they’re guaranteed two games on Thursday.
“Something we always talk about in this program is that it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the net, because we are our best competition,” said Izzy Sandston, Park City senior middle blocker. “We’ve trained to just play our game all season long, so for us, it’s about what we do, no one else matters. When you win every game prior, you walk into the next game confident because you’ve earned your spot there, and that’s exactly how we feel right now.”
Park City won 25-13, 25-13 and 25-11, never showing any rust despite the week off, a testament to the team’s training over the past week, according to coach Matt Carlson.
“It was a good preparation for us tonight because we know what’s now awaiting us on Thursday,” Carlson said. “State is different, it’s something that most of us may not be familiar with, so playing tonight and not having a bye was huge for us. It allowed to get that first game done with so we can understand the atmosphere somewhat.”
Sandston led the Miners in kills, but she was unhappy with her performance, noting her two service errors. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Sandston was otherwise dominant on the floor, using her athleticism and footwork to control the net against the overmatched Leopards.
It was also an emotional match for Sandston and her fellow seniors, as it was the last match they will ever play on their home court. She recalls looking at fellow senior Kylie Farber prior to match point, with each of them knowing what the past four years have meant.
“That’s my last game ever playing in ‘The Shaft’ and it was emotional for sure,” Sandston said. “This has been like my life for four years and I’ve given everything to this program. I don’t know what my future holds with volleyball but I know that I’m going to cherish every second I’m on that court over the rest of the week.”
Park City jumped out to big leads in each of the three sets, before letting its foot off the gas in each of them. Although they recovered nicely to win convincingly, that mentality is something Carlson would like cleaned up heading into Thursday’s matches.
The Miners will now face No. 12 Box Elder on Thursday morning. First serve is set for 9 a.m. from Utah Valley University. Regardless of the outcome of that match, Park City will play again at 12 p.m. against an opponent to be determined.
“Right now, our only thought is how we are going to get our girls prepared enough to play at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning,” Carlson said. “The girls aren’t used to playing that early, so we need to get them up and moving so by the time we play, they’ll be ready to go. Because of the start time, we are going to take it easy in practice (on Wednesday), but just keep preparing like we have been.”
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The Miners are truly a brotherhood, relying on one another to help their teammates go farther. After a few players missed last year’s 4A state semifinal game, this year’s group made sure those guys got the chance to experience this year’s semifinals. When injuries last week had the chance to derail the season, unsung heroes stepped up for the win. Now No. 1 Park City faces No. 2 Sky View in the 4A state title game on Friday at Rice Eccles Stadium.