The Stansbury volleyball team came into Tuesday’s Region 10 opener against county rival Tooele riding a wave of momentum after going 5-2 at last weekend’s Dixie Fly High Tournament in St. George, with the Stallions’ core group of eight seniors eager to prove a point.
Meanwhile, a young Tooele team playing just its third match of the season is still trying to figure things out, hoping to put it all together by the time the state tournament rolls around.
The Stallions looked every bit the part of the more experienced team in a 25-13, 25-18, 25-20 win at Stansbury High School, but the visiting Buffaloes showed flashes of the team they hope to become — particularly late in the match.
“We’ll go back to our gym and work on the things that didn’t work for us tonight,” Tooele coach Kristi Brown said. “We have power, we have those kinds of things that we’ve been working on. … As we get our groove and they learn to get a little more confidence in their game play, I think we’ll see some improvements down the road.
Tooele (0-3, 0-1 Region 10) built a 5-0 lead to open the third set, with sophomore Breanna Beer recording one of her team-high three aces. Alli Miles delivered another ace later in the set to give the Buffaloes an 11-8 lead, opening up the possibility of forcing a fourth set.
However, Stansbury (8-2, 1-0) put its foot to the floor, showing why it’s one of the favorites to compete for the Region 10 title this season. A service error by the Buffs gave the ball back to the Stallions, and senior Linzie Hoffmann delivered a kill to make it 11-10 and a block by Hoffmann tied the set. A few points later, Annika Riggle had a kill and Marina Riddle served up an ace to cap an 11-1 Stansbury run that put the Stallions up 19-12. Stansbury never led by fewer than three points the rest of the match.
“I was proud that we we were able to turn that around really quickly and finish the set off strong, even though we didn’t have the greatest start,” Stansbury coach Erika Smith said.
Stansbury dominated much of the first two sets, building a pair of huge leads. In the opening set, the Stallions started on an 8-2 run with aces by Kayla Alvey and Riggle, as well as kills by Hoffmann and Riggle. Tooele never got closer than three points, and a 9-2 Stansbury run with a pair of kills by Jadyn Gagnier silenced any hope the Buffaloes had of a comeback.
“I just kind of told the girls that it was going to be loud with big crowds on both sides, but not to pay attention to anything other than what was going on on our side,” Smith said. “I think that they did that really well. They wanted to get off to a really fast start and kind of make a statement.”
The second set got off to an even better start for Stansbury, with the Stallions building an 11-2 lead. However, Tooele began to come alive after that, cutting the lead to 11-8 on a kill by Miles, but a 12-4 burst by Stansbury that included aces by Isabelle Veach and Riddle, as well as kills by Ashleigh Olsen and Heilala Kaufusi, allowed Stansbury to regain control.
“What it comes down to is passing and serving,” Brown said. “Missed serves in the first set is what completely took away our steam, because missed serves are giving points away. That’s something (Stansbury) did really well is that they kept the ball in play. That put the pressure on us to do something with it, and we had trouble doing that tonight. Tonight, we struggled with passing for sure.”
Gagnier led Stansbury with 11 kills and Riggle had nine kills and six aces. Riddle had four aces, and Veach and Abby Butler had three each. Alvey had 23 assists. Miles had four kills to lead Tooele, while Gracee Dalton had 11 digs and Beer had eight assists.
Stansbury hit the road Thursday evening to face Juan Diego in a Region 10 match that was not complete at press time. After a road game at Ogden on Sept. 12, the Stallions will play their next home game Sept. 17 against Ben Lomond.
Tooele played host to Ogden on Thursday. The Buffaloes will play host to Cedar Valley on Tuesday before traveling to Draper to take on Juan Diego on Sept. 12.