OREM — Desert Hills sent a clear message on Wednesday: the Thunder aren’t messing around.
The Thunder advanced to the 3A State Volleyball Championship semifinals in dominant fashion, first beating Tooele in straight sets, then brushing aside a very talented Juan Diego team in the second round.
Desert Hills will match up against Park City, which also won both Wednesday matches in straight sets.
“We’ve worked a lot of serving and passing the last couple of weeks just because that’s what wins games,” DHHS senior setter Hailee Harmer said. “We don’t really worry who’s on the other side; we just play and focus on what we’re doing.”
The two Thunder wins looked every bit as the unbeaten region season did: seniors Charity Bradley and Rachel Winters combined for 31 kills against Juan Diego and 20 against Tooele.
Harmer was steady as the setter, grabbing 59 assists in the two wins. Desert Hills won several points on its serve each set, finishing the win over the Soaring Eagle with eight aces after hitting eight against the Buffaloes.
Harmer said there were some nerves, but more from excitement than anything.
The Tooele win was a balanced effort from the Thunder, as 11 different players recorded a dig and nine different players recorded a kill. It wasn’t as one-sided as the win over Juan Diego (25-12, 25-7, 25-9).
The Thunder will play at 12:30 p.m. at Utah Valley University Thursday. The other semifinal match pits Morgan against Union at the same time with the final scheduled for 6 p.m.
Dixie stopped by Morgan in second round
Dixie did what a lot of very good teams haven’t done this season: take a set off of 3A powerhouse Morgan.
In the end it wasn’t enough for the Flyers, who fell in four sets to the Trojans in the second round (18-25, 14-25, 25-16, 17-25).
Morgan was hard to stop in the first two sets, then Dixie figured out its rhythm.
Head coach Stacy Leavitt said the Flyers passed better and started hitting their spots on serves in the third set.
That, and very inspired defense by Risha Tiatia, Ella Burrows and company, kept the Flyers alive several times and eventually helped them win the set. Leavitt praised Burrows, who had six blocks to go with Tiatia’s 12 kills.
Earlier in the day, Dixie beat Stansbury in the first round (25-17, 20-25, 25-21, 25-9). Tyler Stilson led the team with 13 kills, and Wright had 25 assists.
The Flyers play North Sanpete at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Pine View beaten by Union, beats Logan in consolation round
Pine View Panthers beat Logan in the consolation round (25-10, 25-18, 25-17) after falling in four sets to eventual semifinalist Union (22-25, 20-25, 25-18, 23-25).
The Panthers play Stansbury at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Snow Canyon drops both matches
For the Snow Canyon Warriors, it was a new reality at the state tournament, as they suffered a first-round sweep at the hands of Park City (12-25, 11-25, 24-26) followed by a loss against Juab later that night.
SCHS won the title two years ago in five sets against Morgan, and has always been a perennial state title contender. Things are a bit different for Snow Canyon now.
“That’s one thing that I’ve tried to help the girls with, it’s something that I’ve struggled with personally is the expectations of the program,” head coach Ryan Rarick said. “I like that we have really high expectations to live up to.”
Rarick said he’s already optimistic about next year even though the Warriors graduate seven seniors. His two outside hitters are young: sophomore Sammi Johnston and freshman Hallie Remund.
Canyon View swept by Morgan, Stansbury
The Canyon View Falcons had a tough first-round draw against Morgan, and the Trojans won in three sets (11-25, 11-25, 17-25), sending CV to a late-night consolation bracket match against Stansbury.
CV lost to the Stallions 23-25, 12-25, 21-25.
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr on Twitter @PatrickCarr_ and on Facebook at Facebook.com/PatrickJosephCarr1/ or call him at (435) 231-3834.