The 5A state championship volleyball match reached a fifth set at Hillcrest High School in Midvale on Saturday, and the Timpview players gathered around head coach Charmay Lee for last-minute instructions.
Lee told them to imagine they were playing in their own gym, known as the Thunderdome.
The girls made themselves right at home in set 5, pounding their way to an early 6-1 lead against Region 7 foe Mountain View and playing the kind of clean, relaxed volleyball that coaches dream about.
Star sophomore setter Silina Damuni got Timpview to match point at 14-8 on an assist from libero Eunice Garcia. Then Damuni did what she had done all night long – expertly set up a teammate for a winner. Tricia Tua’one smashed the ball off the Bruins block and the arena erupted.
Its fifth-set heroics helped Timpview (22-6) finish off a tense 3-2 (25-19, 25-27, 25-20, 23-25, 15-8) victory for the school’s fourth state championship since 2011.
“Mountain View was a really strong team and we knew that it would take more than three to take them down,” T-Bird senior Kesa Makasini said. “In the fifth set I think our team just came together and we were playing for each other. We were taking everything from the crowd and the other team and using it for ourselves.”
The two teams – which split the regular season series 1-1 — went back and forth all afternoon in the championship match. Timpview led 21-20 in Set 3 and scored the final four points, including two kills from Brielle Rueckert and the deciding point on an ace from Damuni for a 2-1 lead.
Mountain View sophomore Mia Lee got hot in the middle of Set 4, scoring six points in a 9-1 Bruins run for a 22-15 lead. Mountain View had to hold off a late charge by Timpview but Lucy Perez tooled her attack off the block at set point for a 25-23 win that forced Set 5.
“In the fourth set we caught up from being down 22-15 and that momentum carried into the next set,” Damuni said.
Damuni, Rueckert and Makasini all had kills as Timpview earned that early 6-1 lead in the fifth set. Mountain View committed a few too many errors but managed to cut the deficit to three at 11-8. The T-Birds scored the final four points to get the win and the championship.
“If you fall behind 4-0 or 5-1, even in a 25-point set, it’s really hard to come back from that,” Mountain View coach Dave Neeley said. “In a 15-point set it’s doubly hard just because of the way the math works. Timpview was really good at being aggressive all night long and we didn’t really have that. How we’ve won games all year long is just by swinging away and we weren’t able to do that.”
Makasini led a balance attack for Timpview with 14 kills. Rueckert (13 kills, four blocks) and Taliah Lee (11 kills, three blocks) also reached double figures.
Damuni was the maestro, totaling seven kills, four aces and 46 assists for the T-Birds.
“We rely on Silina as a setter but also as a captain,” Charmay Lee said. “When she’s back there and serving it’s like she’s the little mamma bear and has everyone under control.”
Mountain View (24-8) won the 2019 5A state title but lost Valley Player of the Year Mia Wesley to graduation and Neeley took over the program during the spring.
“It’s been 12 years since I coached high school volleyball and these girls were a great group to get into it with,” Neeley said. “Just the dynamics of the team, with the seniors and the sophomores, they just meshed so well. I loved coaching them, I loved coming to practices and loved coming to games. They’ve been a fun team.”
Lee paced the Bruins with 13 kills and five blocks while Perez added 12 kills.