No surprises come the volleyball teams’ way this weekend at the state tournament, as all three teams have been there and done that.
All three Region 11 teams from the area qualified for the 3A State Volleyball Tournament that takes place Friday and Saturday, and this year the teams hope to move forward past the first round.
The Grantsville Cowboys enter the state volleyball tournament as the No. 4 seed. Their first game will be against North Sanpete, a team that swept its way through Region 12. North Sanpete lost just three games all season.
Grantsville’s pod in the tournament features North Sanpete, and then Uintah and Snow Canyon against one another in the other game.
“Being the underdog is always an advantage in my eyes when you hit highly emotional tournament time,” said GHS coach Stefanie Orgill. “Our team works well together and enjoys playing this game. Our fun factor always excites our play to high levels.”
Orgill said the ability to have fun on the court and stay loose will be the key to having a successful run through state.
“The team is peaking at the right time,” she said. “As long as we remember to have fun and not take ourselves too serious on the court, we will perform well.”
Grantsville’s game against North Sanpete is slated to start at 10:30 a.m.
The Stansbury Stallions enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed behind Bear River. The Stallions come into the tournament with a hungry feeling after last year’s first-round upset loss to Uintah.
“Our players are saying, ‘We’ve got something to prove. We’re a talented group of young ladies,’” said SHS head coach Clint Barnes, who said he and the players want to finally be the Stansbury team that moves past the first round for the first time. “It hasn’t been done in school history. Our goal is to get out of the first round. It’s always eluded us because we get tough first round matchups. We’re on a good side of the bracket. We’ve got a good shot at Morgan, if we can get past Carbon in the first round.”
Barnes said hitting has been the largest focus for Stansbury in the practices leading up to the state tournament.
“We’re one step away from being a great team,” he said. “If we can fine tune our hitting, we’ll be that much more potent and that much more of a factor in the state tournament.”
The Stallions believe they have what it takes to make a run to the finals over the next two days.
“I think we can have a shot,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to be a team that can hit with velocity. We can potentially make it to the finals. The girls just got to do the things we’ve been working on. We’re excited to get out there and see if we can do it.”
Stansbury battles Carbon at 9 a.m.
The Tooele Buffaloes come into the state tournament riding high from an undefeated region season where they picked up the No. 1 seed. Their first game will be against the Juab Wasps, but the Lady Buffs don’t have much information on them.
“We’ve played a couple of teams in their region, but we never saw Juab at a tournament,” said THS head coach Kristi Brown. “We’re going in with not a lot of information on Juab. It could be quite a surprise. What I can go by is that we’ve played Carbon, and we’ve played Payson, and we beat them. We have to understand that both of those teams beat Juab.”
But it’s all about the end goal of winning state for the Lady Buffs, and shoring weaknesses has been the focus in practice.
“We’ve had some tight practices,” Brown said. “We’re fine-tuning things. For a lot of my girls this will be their third year at state so they know what to expect.”
With so many games taking place at the same time during the state tournament, the environment can get distracting. But the teams practice that environment during the year with in-season tournaments, playing games at the same times as other teams, usually on a court right next to another game. Brown said the more important factor to worry about is making sure the athletes play as themselves.
“We need to make sure we don’t get in with the jitters,” Brown said. “We need to play with confidence, focus on serving and things we have control of, make fewer errors than the other team. Then I think we’ll do fine.”
Tooele’s game against Juab takes place at 10:30 a.m.