Pleasant Grove volleyball … Lone Peak volleyball … fifth set.
Does it get any more exciting at the high school level?
The Vikings and Knights played another nail-biter Thursday night at Pleasant Grove in the final regular-season showdown between the two powerhouses, with victory in the balance until Lone Peak senior MaKenzie Templeton hammered home the game-winner to secure the 3-2 Knight win (19-25, 25-18, 13-25, 25-18, 19-17).
“It was so stressful,” Templeton said. “There were times where I was so much in my own head that I didn’t know what to do.”
The Vikings had taken the first region match in five sets but Lone Peak swept Pleasant Grove in two sets in last week’s Wasatch Festival.
Thus it was fitting — and not surprising — that this latest battle would come down to some key final plays at the end with everything on the line.
The Knights got a pair of kills from junior Hadley Gant and Templeton, as well as a couple of Viking mishits, to make the first big run, scoring four straight points to eventually build a 14-10 lead.
But Pleasant Grove refused to go down easily.
“We went out there and grinded at the end,” Viking head coach Allyce Jones said. “We had nothing to lose. I told the girls in the timeout to not care about the scoreboard, to just play hard, play to win and play crazy-good defense.”
Pleasant Grove responded by getting two kills from junior Mia Peterson and a pair of aces from senior Abbie Miller to make a huge comeback.
After a Viking hitting error gave Lone Peak its fifth match point, Pleasant Grove got another kill from Peterson and a block from Miller to take an astonishing lead — getting the home team a match point of its own.
The Vikings actually got the ball up and had a swing to win the match but the Knight block managed to stuff the ball down to keep the match going.
“I honestly would’ve rather had the ball on our side because their hitters are pretty clutch, so it was nerve-wracking,” Lone Peak head coach Reed Carlson said. “Hadley (Gant) did a great job getting in good position to get the block.”
The Knights followed that block up with a second block to retake the lead, then had their sixth match-point opportunity.
When the ball went to Templeton, Carlson had a good feeling.
“She had had some good swings and some bad swings tonight,” Carlson said. “She had been passive earlier in the set, so I told her in the timeout that we needed her to swing high and hard. That was her best swing of the night.”
Templeton credited the set from senior Gabi Haws for making it easier.
“I got the perfect set and I just thought that the team needed me to do it right then,” Templeton said. “It felt so good to see it go down. At first, it didn’t register but then everyone was cheering and I realized we had won. It was such a good feeling.”
Carlson and Jones both said they’ve come to expect it to be just such a battle every time the two teams play against each other.
“I’m glad we were finally able to put it away,” Carlson said. “I don’t know if I would’ve been able to sleep tonight if we had lost after being up 14-10. Kudos to Pleasant Grove for serving tough and doing what they were supposed to do to come back. They are a good volleyball team, so it’s always like this.”
Both teams hope having such a high-level match will be good preparation for the upcoming 6A state tournament.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and work on making fewer mistakes in key situations,” Jones said.
Carlson said: “We realize now that we are good enough to go deep in the tournament but we aren’t good enough that someone won’t be able to beat us. We have to do a better job.”
That was the final regular-season match for Lone Peak, while Pleasant Grove will host Bingham on Oct. 30 as a final preparation for the 6A playoffs.