Stansbury volleyball coach Erika Smith is trying to build a winning tradition at SHS — one where the Stallions believe they can compete with the elite programs in Class 4A.
For the first two sets of Tuesday’s Region 11 match against Park City, her team proved her right. But a couple of untimely injuries caused Stansbury to lose focus, and the experienced and talented Miners took advantage in a 25-20, 20-25, 25-16, 25-17 win.
“I think it was just our mentality — just getting frazzled, worrying about our teammates and trying to make those adjustments,” Smith said. “The bright side is that we get to play them again. Our goal this year is to win region, and I don’t think that’s out of our grasp yet. I wouldn’t count us out yet.”
Stansbury (5-4, 1-1 Region 11) kept the first two sets close with a never-say-die attitude. The Miners (1-2, 1-1) took an early 7-2 lead in the opening set, but the Stallions clawed their way back to within a point at 14-13. Even after a 4-0 Park City run that included a pair of emphatic blocks by Isabella Sandston and Emily Smith didn’t deter the Stallions, who pulled within two points at 19-17 on a kill by Sami Oblad.
The Miners went on to win the first set, but it was obvious the Stallions wouldn’t go away quietly. In fact, after Park City took an 18-17 lead in the second set, Stansbury tallied eight of the next 11 points to even the match at 1-1, despite losing Oblad to an injury.
“We prepared really well at practice, and I think that’s why the first two sets were so tight — because we kind of knew what they were bringing and we made adjustments according to that,” Smith said. “Then they started adjusting to our adjustments and we couldn’t make the switch after that.”
The Stallions lost another key piece of their lineup early in the third set when a ball spiked by Park City star Grace Wiczek hit Stansbury middle blocker McKenzie Brady in the face, giving her a bloody nose. Brady returned to the lineup before the end of the set, but while she was away, the Miners turned an early 7-5 deficit into a commanding 19-11 lead en route to a momentum-shifting set victory.
Park City maintained that momentum in the fourth set, rolling to a comfortable match-clinching win.
“I could probably make excuses that we had a couple of our big studs go down with Sami and Kenzie, but I’m confident enough in our younger girls and our depth that that shouldn’t be an excuse,” Smith said. “We all practice together and we all work on the same things.”
Smith thanked the fans who came out to support the Stallions in their first home region match of the season, as well as those who provided financial support to a local family whose daughter was recently diagnosed with leukemia. The Stansbury players wore orange ribbons in their hair and many of the fans in attendance wore orange to raise awareness for the cause.
The Stallions will compete in Lehi’s tournament this weekend as they prepare for Tuesday’s rivalry match against Tooele.
“We’re using this tournament as a bunch of practice games to get mentally ready for that big rivalry game,” Smith said. “It’s hard. They’re going to play their best game, the crowd’s going to bring a lot of energy and there’s a lot of extra factors during those games.”