Hawks win five-set thriller
MT. PLEASANT–North Sanpete took on Grantsville in the first round of the UHSAA state volleyball tournament, winning in a barn-burner five set match Saturday.
In the past, the state tournament was held at Utah Valley University. However, with this year’s COVID challenges, the UHSAA decided to have smaller first round competitions hosted at local schools to try and lessen exposure. Since the Lady Hawks finished No. 6 in the rankings, they hosted the 11-seed Granville Cowboys at home.
North Sanpete struggled in the first set, allowing the hard-hitting Cowboys to pick apart their defense. Unable to stop Grantsville’s heavy-armed outside hitter, North Sanpete dropped the first set with a score of 25-22.
In the second set North Sanpete struggled even worse. The lack of defense started to trickle into offense, as hitters made many unforced errors which buried the Hawks with a 25-13 score for Grantsville. It seemed that the Hawks were on the fast track to being out the first round of state, but after a pep-talk by head coach Rickie Stewart, North Sanpete was able to relax, refocus, and gain some confidence.
North Sanpete’s defense began to pick up in the third set, followed closely by their offense. Junior outside hitter Makei Laupapa ended the match with a total of 16 kills, as she tipped on Grantsville’s offense, resulting in many out-of-system plays and unforced errors for the Cowboys. Although it was a close battle, North Sanpete won the third set 25-19.
The fourth set went point for point, but North Sanpete’s new-found confidence was enough to help them edge out Grantsville with a set score of 25-22.
Early in the final set North Sanpete struggled in serve-receive, giving Grantsville a five point lead. With the set only going to 15 points, it appeared that the Cowboys could win. However, North Sanpete closed the gap, one play at a time, until the score was tied.
Although outside hitter Melissa Ferre was bombing balls at Grantsville’s defense, the Cowboys made several impressive diving saves that kept them in the game. The gym was full of excitement as each team continued to tie up the score until North Sanpete pushed past Grantsville to finish the set 16-14. The gym exploded with cheers from the North Sanpete crowd as the players celebrated their come-from-behind victory.
With the win North Sanpete moved on to compete in the state tournament at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield Oct. 27 and 28.