OREM — The Lady Hawks traveled to Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center last Tuesday and Wednesday to participate in the 3A State Volleyball Tournament.
North Sanpete ended the season with a ninth place RPI ranking and were determined to prove that they should have a higher ranking after a tournament earlier in the season left them with several losses which drastically affected their RPI.
In the middle of the season, the Lady Hawks traveled to the annual Sevier Valley Center Tournament in Richfield. Typically, the Hawks place in the top two in the tournament, but injuries and missing players resulted in losses for the Hawks which dropped their ranking. Because of the ninth place finish, the Hawks would encounter higher ranked teams earlier in the state tournament than normal and North Sanpete entered the state tournament hoping to show that they could complete with all teams.
The first day of the tournament North Sanpete was scheduled to take on the eighth ranked South Sevier Rams. The Hawks had little problem with the Rams as they defeated South Sevier in three straight sets with scores of 25-21, 25-17, 25-23. North Sanpete’s defense handled the Rams as South Sevier was unable to find the court.
Hawk defenders dug ball after ball allowing the Hawks offensive multiple opportunities to score. North Sanpete hitters were able to put the ball away with little difficulty as they destroyed South Sevier’s defense. With the first match out of the way, North Sanpete was excited to move on in the tournament and looked forward to taking on the number 1 ranked San Juan Broncos.
Since the San Juan Broncos was in their region last year, the Hawks knew the Broncos would be a tough opponent. Last year, the Lady Hawks finished second in region just behind the Broncos and with San Juan losing hardly any players from the previous year, North Sanpete knew this would be a difficult match.
This year, San Juan was ranked #1 in the RPI, however, North Sanpete was up to the challenge and hoped to knock the top seeded team out of the tournament. The first set began and North Sanpete hung on during the set, but was unable to pull out a victory as the Broncos won 25-19.
However, the Hawks were not going to go quietly and during the second set completely frustrated the Broncos as North Sanpete’s defense shut down San Juan’s main offensive threats. San Juan tried to find open spots on the court, but an amazing defensive display by North Sanpete’s sophomore libero Jada Bailey, who had a total of 31 digs for the match, stopped San Juan at every offensive attempt.
Because of North Sanpete’s relentless defense, the Hawks were able to keep the ball alive and try their hand at picking apart the Broncos. Senior outside hitter Sara Oldroyd had a career high match of 19 kills as she found open spots on San Juan’s side of the net. The Lady Hawks were able to take the second set from the Broncos with a score of 25-22.
North Sanpete hoped to carry the momentum they had throughout the rest of the game, and although there were moments of triumph, the Hawks succumbed to San Juan the third and fourth sets as they began to struggle offensively. The Hawks allowed themselves to get stuck in rotations, and after repeated hitting errors, North Sanpete found themselves losing the next two sets by scores of 25-19, and 25-18.
After the game, Head Coach Rickie Stewart spoke about how proud she was of her team. “This match was one of the first times we had played together this season. We have struggled with all athletes showing up at the same time and playing as a team. The girls managed when needed, adjusted when asked, and fought when things got tough,” said Stewart.
Because of the loss to the Broncos, North Sanpete dropped to the lower 3A state bracket. Even though the tournament is double elimination, it is not a true double and now the best that the Hawks could finish is fifth place. The Hawks would face the Grand High School Devils the next morning to fight for a fifth place title.
The Lady Hawks faced the Grand Red Devils on Wednesday in hopes of continuing on to a fifth place finish; however, North Sanpete struggled to find any momentum after the loss to San Juan the day before and ended up suffering a loss to the Red Devils.
At first, the Hawks competed with Grand and took the first set 25-20. After the win though, North Sanpete struggled to continue their success and lost the next three sets by scores of 25-19, 25-15, and 25-15.
After the loss to the Devils, the Hawks were knocked out of the tournament and ended with a ninth place finish. Overall, the Hawks were disappointed with the finish as they were hoping to finish in the top five.
Although the team banned together and played an amazing game against San Juan when facing the Red Devils, they seemed to resort back to some of their old habits and were unable to play as a team which resulted in the loss.