The Tooele Lady Buffaloes needed one more win to clinch the region volleyball championship, and they got that win Tuesday night against the Stansbury Stallions.
The Lady Buffs picked up the win in three sets, 25-19, 25-16, 25-21, accomplishing one of their goals that was set on day No. 1.
“It’s been an incredible season,” said THS head coach Kristi Brown. “We set some goals, and that was to take region this year. That’s what we set as a medium-sized goal. We’ve had our ups and downs.”
Brown said the team fought injuries and illnesses this season, and to keep battling through and winning matches made the region championship that much sweeter.
And to add to Tooele’s excitement, it had to win in a place that it had never won before — Stansbury High School’s gymnasium.
“We hadn’t won in Stansbury since they opened,” Brown said. “It was just time for them, and they were ready. They were very determined that they were going to win the game in this gym.”
Stansbury now sits at 3-3 in the region following the loss to Tooele, and now it plays its final two games on the road. However, Stansbury still sits in a position to clinch the region’s No. 2 seed in the state tournament, especially after beating Grantsville a week ago. The Stallions conclude the season at Ben Lomond on Tuesday, Oct. 22, and at Bear River on Thursday, Oct. 24.
The Stallions didn’t gain their first lead of the match until the beginning of the third set on a sideout to open the set. Tooele built leads early in the first two sets to get the 2-0 lead going into that third set.
Tooele opened the first set with a 9-3 lead, highlighted by a kill from Annie Dalton, an ace from Kassidie Russell, a block by Taylor Thomas, an ace by Shaundra Olson and a kill by Brin Stewart. One of the Lady Buffs’ defensive highlights came with them leading 11-7. The Lady Buffs were caught out of position when the ball came over the net, but Olson hit the floor and kept the ball alive with one hand, and that led eventually led to a point, 12-7.
The Lady Buffs piled on the points with a kill from Sydnee Simmons, an ace from Amber Haskell, an ace from Madison Gibson, a kill by Dalton, and one final kill by Stewart to end the set at 25-19.
The Stallions made some big plays in the first set as well to keep themselves within range of a comeback. Katy Flint had a kill, Rachel Kirchhoff had a two-handed soft tap that landed for a point, and Riley Steadman forced a sideout early on to score Stansbury’s first point at 3-1.
The second set started just as the first one did with Tooele jumping out in front 2-0. Stansbury then scored two points to even the set before Tooele reeled off five straight points. Olson served for the Lady Buffs to help score those points, including an ace to make the score 7-2. Once the Stallions finally forced a sideout, Jessica Bassett kept the scoring going with an ace of her own to pull the Stallions within 7-4.
The Stallions kept the battle close at 12-10 after a kill by Madie Alvey. Then at 13-11 THS, Bailey Wilson reared back her arm and fired a shot that deflected off an attempted block by Tooele and landed for a Stallion point at 13-12.
However, Tooele built itself another cushion at 17-12, capped off by an aced serve from Olson. Tooele then scored eight of the next 12 points to finish off the set at 25-16.
The third set started differently as the Stallions played for their lives. The two sides battled to an early 4-4 score, and then Stewart blasted a kill to give Tooele a 5-4 lead. The Lady Buffs tacked on three more points, highlighted by two serves that scored points by Haskell.
Stansbury’s Krissy Nobles knocked down a kill to make the score 10-7 and keep the Stallions alive, but the Lady Buffs had an answer just as they had the whole night. Dalton landed a kill, and Brook Pierce aced a serve.
It was then time for Stansbury junior Tiffany Robbins to take over. She landed a kill to cut Tooele’s lead to 14-11, and then she had a block a few volleys later to cut Tooele’s lead to 15-13. This sparked Camryn Anderson into action, as she nailed back-to-back aces to bring Stansbury back even with Tooele at 15-15.
But the Stallions finally ran out of gas keeping up with the Lady Buffs, who scored four straight points after the even score. After a double-hit by Tooele, Olson responded with a kill to make the score 20-16. Stansbury’s Julia Flint came back with a soft kill for 20-17. Following a point by Tooele, Robbins fired a shot that deflected off the Lady Buffs for a 21-18 score, and then it was only a matter of time before the set came to an end. Three straight serves went out-of-bounds with the Lady Buffs leading 23-20. First the Stallions, then the Lady Buffs, and then finally the Stallions served one more out-of-bounds to give Tooele the region championship.
Even with the No. 1 seed in the state tournament wrapped up, Tooele has one more region game to play Tuesday. The Grantsville Cowboys visit Tooele High School, and they still have a shot at the No. 2 seed.