On paper, a three-set loss in a volleyball match looks like a blowout — total domination by one team over an overmatched opponent.
But to those who saw Stansbury’s 3-0 loss on the road to Park City on Tuesday night, the Stallions were the total opposite of a pushover. The Miners’ 27-25, 25-21, 25-13 win saw the defending Class 4A state champions pushed to their absolute limit in the first two sets and proved that Stansbury will certainly have a say when it comes to the Region 11 title.
“Anyone who sees online or looks it up is going to see, oh, we lost three to zero, but anyone who was here could see that it was a battle the entire time,” Stansbury coach Erika Smith said. “It could have gone either way.”
Stansbury (6-5, 1-1 Region 11) sprinted out to a 15-6 lead in the opening set, with a big 13-3 run led by Marina Riddle’s serving and kills from Kayla Alvey, Heilala Kaufusi and Linzie Hoffmann. However, in a display of what has made Park City (6-5, 1-0) one of Utah’s premier programs in recent years, the Miners ran off 10 consecutive points, many of which came off the serving of senior Dalton Dailey and the thunderous hitting of senior Grace Wiczek.
From there, the first set turned into a see-saw battle between the teams, with neither the Stallions nor the Miners leading by more than two points. Stansbury had a chance to win the first set, serving with a 25-24 lead, but was unable to capitalize, and back-to-back kills by Sarah Pillman and Wiczek gave Park City the win.
The second set was close in the early going, until Park City went on a 10-1 run to turn a 13-12 Stansbury lead into a 22-14 Miners advantage. Stansbury battled back with a quick 6-1 burst that included an ace by Kaufusi, but Park City held on.
“We’ve been practicing a pretty specific game plan in practice lately,” Smith said. “It seemed like we were exploiting some of the holes that they had. I thought we were serving well. Passing, we could always improve, but when we did get a good pass, we were able to make something out of it. We were playing defense really well, and I feel like that’s one of our strong points this year.”
The Stallions seemed to run out of steam in the final set after taking an early 9-8 lead. A 12-1 Park City run took the wind out of Stansbury’s sails, and the Miners were able to close out the match.
Despite the loss, Smith was encouraged by what she saw.
“It was just a couple things that didn’t go our way,” Smith said. “We should be really excited for (Park City) to come to our place and play.”
Kaufusi led Stansbury with four kills. Jaydn Gagnier and Annika Riggle each had three kills, and Hoffmann and Riddle had four aces each. Samantha Bryant had a team-high five digs and 11 assists.
Stansbury’s next match is Tuesday evening at home against county rival Tooele.