When it comes to the state volleyball tournament, coaches utilize whatever extra motivational methods they can find.
Consider a T-shirt and a motto.
The state’s largest classification always seems to feature Lone Peak and Pleasant Grove, and the 2019 tournament is no different. Both clubs swept their way to the semifinals on Thursday at the UCCU Center in Orem.
Lone Peak’s state tournament T-shirts say, “Victoree D,” which is a play on words honoring their head coach, Victor Reed Carlson (he goes by “Reed”).
“They put some quotes on the back of the T-shirt of things I apparently say,” Carlson said. “I don’t know that I say too much, but it was a really sweet tribute. We also talk a lot about our defense, so the ‘D’ is also for defense.”
Junior outside hitter Lauren Jardine, who had a great first day of the tournament leading the Lone Peak offense, said the favorite thing Reed says to her is, “Do you think that’s going to work?”
“Sometimes I do the same thing over and over again, and that’s what he says,” Jardine said.
Jardine did a lot of good things over and over again on Thursday, especially in the first set of the day against West. Jardine had nine kills in a 25-18 Lone Peak win, and the Knights went on to sweep the Panthers 3-0 (25-18, 25-13, 25-10). In the next round, Lone Peak (22-5) raced past No. 6 Syracuse 3-0 (25-10, 25-15, 25-13) to move on to the semifinals.
“For us, the first day is always ‘can we build momentum?’” Carlson said. “I thought we did that nicely. West came out and they were really scrappy and did some good stuff. Their girls are super athletic. It was a really fun match to have to get us focused. We came dialed in against Syracuse. We were ready for that match and it showed. We played really well.
“I definitely think we found a little bit of our flow tonight and that’s fun because everybody at every position is doing what they’re supposed to do. When that happens that way with teenage girls, it’s a beautiful thing.”
The Knights – seeded No. 4 coming into the tournament – will take on top seed Copper Hills in one of Saturday’s semifinals. The Grizzlies swept Westlake (25-23, 25-11, 25-16) and Corner Canyon (25-18, 25-20, 27-25) and will provide a real challenge for Lone Peak as the Knights eye four state titles in a row.
“I just felt we worked together really well,” Jardine said. “We’ve been practicing so much get our communication and our connections with each other. We have the ability to play as a team and a family and those are my favorite things about playing here.”
The t-shirts and hoodies for Pleasant Grove read “We Are I.C.O.N.S.”
“The ‘I’ means intense, the ‘C’ means ‘confidence,’ the ‘O’ means ‘open minded,’ the ‘N’ means ‘noble’ and the ‘S’ means ‘selfless,’” PG senior Amanda Schneck said.
The third-seeded Vikings were all of those things and more on Thursday, taking care of Weber 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-10) in their first match and sweeping No. 6 seed Bingham (25-17, 25-16, 26-24) in the quarterfinals.
“We played some good ball today,” Pleasant Grove coach Allyce Jones said. “Our serving was tough and our offense was flowing. Abbie (Miller) was putting up some great balls for our hitters to do a lot of work with.”
The Vikings needed extra time to take out a stubborn Bingham squad. PG led 15-12 on a Kelli Joe Burgess kill but the Miners battled back and tied the set at 24. Miller went to Mia Peterson (23 kills in two matches) and Bryton Bishop (16 kills, five aces) for the final two points and the win.
Jones said the state tournament requires a higher level of focus than the regular season and the state t-shirts are a reminder of what it takes to advance.
“There are a lot of different distractions,” she said. “We call is ‘lasering in.’ We have to get our volleyball focus and then we control what we can control.”
Pleasant Grove (25-5) will take on No. 2 seed Fremont (28-2) in one of Saturday’s semifinals. The Silverwolves cruised through Thursday’s play by sweeping Taylorsville (25-11, 25-14, 25-10) and Davis (26-24, 25-19, 25-19).