The Region 11 title may be out of reach, but there’s still plenty left for the Tooele and Stansbury volleyball teams to play for as the season heads for the home stretch.
That much was obvious Thursday night at Stansbury High School, where the host Stallions held off their county rivals for a 25-13, 25-17, 25-27, 25-21 win as the teams continued their battle for playoff positioning.
“We knew going into the fourth set that we needed to regroup and get the ‘W,’” said Stansbury senior Sienna Riggle, who led the Stallions (11-10, 6-3 Region 11) with 13 kills.
The Stallions and Buffaloes (10-9, 6-4) are locked in a fight with Juan Diego for second, third and fourth place in Region 11, hoping to earn a more favorable draw in the Class 4A state tournament at the end of October. Thus, the intensity level was ratcheted up several levels Thursday night.
Stansbury dominated the first set from start to finish, but had to overcome an early 5-0 hole in the second set. The Stallions gradually whittled Tooele’s lead away, and went on an 8-2 run midway through the set to take a 17-12 lead. The Buffs stayed within striking distance at 21-17 until Stansbury captured the final four points.
It looked like Stansbury was on its way to a three-set sweep when the Stallions grabbed a 20-16 lead, and a kill by Riggle gave the Stallions two match points at 24-22. However, the Buffaloes responded with three straight points, capped by a Shaylie Davis kill, and Tooele went on to steal a set victory.
But the Stallions weren’t rattled, racing out to a 5-2 lead in the fourth set. Tooele went on a 9-2 run to take an 11-7 advantage, but Stansbury answered with an 8-1 run of its own to take the lead back. The Stallions eventually stretched the lead to 21-14 on a pair of Cassidie Hoffmann service aces and a Riggle kill.
Tooele made things interesting, though. A block by Blake Hervat was a key moment during the Buffs’ 6-0 run that made it 21-20. Stansbury regained its composure, however, and eventually held on for the victory.
“You can never get comfortable,” Stansbury coach Erika Smith said. “A lead is never enough. You’ve got to keep pushing to the end. That’s what I kept trying to remind them (of), and I was really proud of how we turned around after that third set and got it done in the fourth.”
Hoffmann, Kalee Philips and Grace Black each had three service aces for the Stallions. Hoffmann also had 12 digs, while Samantha Bryant had 17 digs and 34 assists. McKenzie Brady had 11 kills and Black added nine.
“We had a week to prepare for this one and we worked on very, very specific things, like hitting into a hole and serving into a specific place, and I feel like we executed really, really well,” Smith said.
Gracee Dalton led Tooele with 15 kills and eight digs. Sadee Simmons had six aces and 12 assists, and Davis added four aces. Erin Galloway led the Buffs with 16 assists, Brooklyn Lewis had six blocks and Peyton Cluff had eight digs for a squad that has been dealing with injuries to key players.
“I am not upset at all with the effort of my girls or their play,” Tooele coach Kristi Brown said. “They gave it what they could. We played well – we just had some moments in which we let too many get away from us.”
Both teams face crucial matchups against Juan Diego this week. Stansbury’s game against the Soaring Eagle was not complete at press time Tuesday, while Tooele will host Juan Diego on Thursday.