Tuesday night was Desert Hills’ Spike out Cancer night, where the Thunder volleyball players wore pink jerseys bearing the last names of friends and family who’ve battled cancer. Fans wore pink and donated money to team members with collection jars.
It was also Senior Night for six of the Thunder players, who then clinched the Region 9 volleyball title outright.
Desert Hills came back from a first-set loss and beat Pine View in four sets (19-25, 25-9, 25-15, 25-14), improving to 9-0 in region play and also claiming the No. 1 seed from the region in next week’s state tournament at Utah Valley University.
“Awesome, I don’t know how to explain it,” senior hitter Rachel Winters said of the region title, which the Thunder last won in 2013.
Pine View led 10-4 in the first set, and later Cydnee McGuire’s kill made it 17-12 and forced Desert Hills to call timeout. McGuire, who led PV with seven kills, ended the first set with a clean hit.
The break between sets allowed the Thunder to find their groove, and it was Winters who started things off and them kept the train rolling. Desert Hills lept out to an 11-0 lead in the second set.
Of those 11 points, Winters had seven service aces and one kill. She mixed in three more kills, a block and another ace as the Thunder closed out the second set 25-9. Senior setter Hailee Harmer wasn’t surprised that Winters took over the second set.
“If it’s anyone on the team, it would be Rachel,” she said.
Harmer led Desert Hills with 38 assists. Her No. 2 jersey sported the name ‘Mendenhall’ on the back, for Ethan Mendenhall, a young boy who passed away from cancer last year. Winters’ No. 7 jersey had the name ‘Smith’ on the back, for Winters’ sister Tiffany who is a breast cancer survivor.
The Thunder started fast in the third set, too. This time, senior outside hitter Charity Bradley took over and grabbed a fair portion of her team-leading 25 kills in the third set.
She hit a clean kill to make it 11-1, blocked a hit to make it 13-4 and added a service ace to give the Thunder a 16-4 lead. Bradley’s kill ended the third set, 25-15.
“It took us a second to realize we were all playing for ourselves (in the first set), and during the second and third set we really came together and played for each other,” Harmer said.
Pine View, who fell to 6-3 and is now tied for second place in region with Dixie, battled to make the fourth set close early on as it was tied 6-6. But Winters and Bradley were too much for the Panthers, as the Thunder eased to the 25-14 fourth set.
Kiara Rivas led Pine View with 17 digs and McGuire had 11. Cassidy Murdock had 23 assists and Amelia Goebel had three solo blocks.
PV also took part in Spike out Cancer by wearing pink jerseys of their own, and dedicating the game to a young boy in the stands who is battling leukemia, whom each of the players handed an orange rose to before the game.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr on Twitter @PatrickCarr_ and on Facebook at Facebook.com/PatrickJosephCarr1/ or call him at (435) 231-3834.