The Desert Hills and Dixie volleyball teams are hitting their peak at the right time, as the 3A State Volleyball Championship begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center.
Desert Hills is on the opposite side of the bracket as tournament favorite Morgan, so should the teams meet, it would be in the finals. But the task at hand in the first round is Tooele, the No. 4 seed from Region 10.
The Thunder (19-7, 10-0 Region 9) have dominated teams left and right this year, led by outside hitters Charity Bradley and Rachel Winters. But another strength head coach Jill Swaney said the team has is serving.
“If you have some good serves, you can throw the other team out of their system. It takes a lot of time and a lot of reps,” she said.
For example, Winters hit a school-record 13 aces in the Thunder’s win against Pine View last week. Desert Hills won the 3A state title in 2012, but this year’s team is different from years past.
“This is probably one of the more unified teams as far as, these girls are friends on the court and off the court,” Swaney said. “They realize that if someone is struggling they need to step in and help each other out.”
Winters and Bradley have been set very well this season by senior Hailee Harmer. The Thunder’s match against Tooele is at 4 p.m. on Court Two.
Dixie vs. Stansbury, 5:30 p.m. Court Four
The Flyers (13-12, 7-3 Region 9) enter the state tournament on a hot streak, winners of their last four region matches and last six overall.
“We’re playing the best we have all season, for sure,” Dixie coach Stacy Leavitt said. “We knew at the beginning of the season we had this potential, we had to channel it and figure it out.”
Figuring it out meant making some basic changes to a lineup that boasts several solid all-around players, including Risha Tiatia, Brooklyn Wright, Brynn Eardley, Shawnee Jones, Tyler Stilson and Aspen Bair.
The changes also meant going from having two different setters to one, and moving some players to the middle and some to the outside.
“We kind of did a lot of flip-a-roo’s, now that I think about it,” Leavitt said by phone on Tuesday.
The Flyers play Stansbury, Region 10’s third seed. The Stallions struggled early, but have since found their footing. The two teams met at the Bingham Claim Jumper Tournament earlier this month, with Dixie winning 2-1.
Pine View vs. Union, 5:30 p.m., Court One
The Panthers started region play 6-1, but have lost their last three heading into the tournament. Pine View (17-10, 6-4 Region 9) is led by a core senior class including setter Cassidy Murdock, outside hitter Cydnee McGuire, outside hitter Aubrey Hendrickson and libero Kiara Rivas.
Union’s been a steady team all year, winning some good matches and not taking a whole lot of bad losses. The Cougars beat Pine View in a tournament last year and graduated several seniors from last year’s team, but should still pose a stiff challenge.
Snow Canyon vs. Park City, 4 p.m., Court Three
Snow Canyon is the region’s fourth seed, a year after winning a thrilling five-set title match against Morgan.
The Warriors are in the first year under new head coach Ryan Rarick, and have a record of 8-16 (4-6, Region 9).
It’s been tough sledding sometimes for Snow Canyon, which also lost one of its starting outside hitters for the season.
In her absence, freshman Hallie Remund has stepped in to provide some relief for fellow outside hitter Sammi Johnston.
The Warriors match up against Park City, the top seed from Region 10. The Miners went unbeaten in region play and have beaten Snow Canyon all three times they met this season.
Canyon View vs. Morgan, 5:30 p.m., Court Three
The Falcons get the unenviable first-round draw against Morgan, the tournament favorite.
Cassidy Ashdown (123) and Sierra Talbot (116) lead CV in kills. Ivy White has put together a solid season blocking, as she lead the Falcons with 63 total blocks.
Brielle Fulmer has 321 digs to lead the team, which has used two setters this year in Malia Vasi and Sydnee Hansen. CV went 6-16 overall and 2-6 in Region 12.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr on Twitter @PatrickCarr_ and on Facebook at Facebook.com/PatrickJosephCarr1/ or call him at (435) 231-3834.