Pleasant Grove lost the first set to Copper Hills in the Class 6A state volleyball championship match, but that was just the calm before the storm.
The Vikings crashed the No. 1 Grizzlies party by winning the next three sets, finally claiming a 3-1 (14-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-22) victory and their first state title since 2014.
Pleasant Grove, which has played in eight straight large-school state title matches, lost the past three to Lone Peak. This one belonged to the Vikings and coach Allyce Jones, who won her fourth state championship as a coach.
PG was particularly effective in the middle, where Heather Hamson (15 kills) and Kelli Jo Burgess (8 kills) scored consistently against the stingy Copper Hills defense.
“All I told my setter and my team was that we are going to win tonight if we run our middles as much as we can, even in transition,” Jones said. “That’s where we were scoring most of our points. Heather and KJ were incredible tonight.”
In the penultimate Set 4, Copper Hills surged ahead 16-15 and a kill by Asiah Sopoaga gave the Grizzlies an 19-16 advantage.Pleasant Grove trailed 20-16 but rallied to tie the set at 21 on a tip from Burgess. A Mia Peterson kill and a Copper Hills hitting error pushed the Vikings lead to 23-21.
With both fan bases in a frenzy, Peterson (20 kills) sent a gorgeous shot down the line for match point, and Copper Hills served out for the 25-22 Pleasant Grove win and the championship.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” PG setter Abbie Miller said. It was everything I ever hoped or dreamed for this whole tournament then its there, then I’m at the bottom of the dogpile and I’m like ‘This just isn’t real. No way that just happened.’”
Copper Hills broke open Set 1 after leading 15-12. The Grizzlies went on a 10-2 tear, led by some strong defense at the net by Lolohea Fonua and Paiten Langston, for an easy 25-14 victory.
“I told them sometimes it takes a set to get a little bit composed,” Jones said. “Once we got composed we were playing our game.”
Peterson contributed four kills as Pleasant Grove raced to a 12-1 lead in Set 2, but Copper Hills roared back with a 14-4 run to close to 16-15. The Vikings never relinquished the lead, though, and closed the set strong. Sadie Scoville scored on a tip, Madison Scott served an ace and Heather Hamson smashed a kill at set point for the 25-20 win to even the match at one set apiece.
Pleasant Grove got off to a great start in Set 3 as well, blasting its way to an 11-2 lead as Hamson took over at the net. This time, the Vikings kept their foot on the gas and won easily 25-15 on a Burgess kill at set point to lead two sets to one and setting up the final set.
It’s an incredible feeling, its indescribable,” Jones said.
Class 6A roundup
That top seed Copper Hills beat Lone Peak in the semifinals wasn’t as much of a surprise as was how thoroughly the Grizzlies dominated in a 25-16, 25-14, 25-21 victory, ending the Knights championship streak at three.
The scrappy Copper Hills defense slowed down the Lone Peak attack and won the first two sets easily. The Knights broke out to a 6-2 lead in Set 3 but the Grizzlies eventually tied the set at 21. Copper Hills scored the last four points of the set on a Lone Peak error, an ace serve, a block and another Knights hitting error to close out the sweep.
“We were just off,” Lone Peak coach Reed Carlson said. “They (Copper Hills) did a good job of keeping the pressure on us. If we could have gotten into rhythm it would have been a much more competitive match. I think they created a situation where they were more prepared for the match then we were. Once we got knocked down we had a hard time getting back up.”
Pleasant Grove, meanwhile, utilized middles Heather Hamson and Kelli Jo Burgess effectively against the No. 2 seed, Fremont. Hamson and Burgess were able to score consistently in the PG offense and dominated at the net as the Vikings swept the Silverwolves 25-21, 25-14, 25-20.
In the 6A third-place match, Lone Peak lost the first set to Fremont before taking control and winning the next three for a 3-1 (21-25, 25-9, 25-22, 25-16) victory.
“We didn’t play our first match the way we wanted to but we have to have character to compete,” Carlson said. “We set a goal to be playing our best volleyball walking out of the building in our last match, whether for the championship or the third-place match. We had to deal with disappointment in the appropriate manner. I’m proud of them.”
Another Region 4 team, No. 7 American Fork, earned sixth place with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-20) sweep of 13th-seeded West.