Tooele stayed on target to win its first region volleyball championship in 20 years with a 3-1 victory at Grantsville Tuesday night.
The Buffaloes improved to 4-0 in region games and 10-0 overall in complete matches. Tooele lost a pair of partial matches in pre-season, which were only best-of-three sets with the third set ending at 15 points.
Regardless, it has turned into a banner year for the Buffaloes.
“Our goal is to win our four remaining region games and win the region championship,” said Tooele coach Kristi Brown. “Tooele hasn’t won a region championship in 20 years.”
The biggest challenge has been getting past rivalry teams Stansbury and Grantsville.
“Stansbury’s coach told me his team played the best they have played all year against us, and Grantsville played us tough. We had the most service errors of the year at Grantsville and the difficult thing there is the student section getting after our players.”
Visiting Tooele also had strong support from its student section at the game in Grantsville as the Buffaloes have surged forward to be listed among the top teams in 3A.
Tooele never trailed in the first two sets with 25-18, 29-19 victories. A rejuvenated Grantsville squad battled back to win the third set 25-18. Tooele regrouped after the one-set setback and came on to end the match with a tight 25-22 victory in the fourth set.
Annie Dalton led the way for the Buffaloes with 12 kills and three kill blocks. “Annie returned to doing what she was doing earlier in the season. She has had a back injury the past two weeks and really hasn’t been able to go full-out,” her coach said. “She felt really good Tuesday night and it showed.”
Dalton put together back-to-back kills midway through the first set and then added two more at the end of the set to finish off the Cowboys. Grantsville sliced the THS lead to 18-15 after a long rally and a fierce kill from Sarah Sandberg, but Tooele pulled away for a 25-18 victory.
Dalton started hot in the second set with three kills to give her team a quick lead with Sydnee Simmons and Shaundra Olson taking over later in the set with kills to give the second set to the Buffaloes at 25-19.
The third set was a battle as both teams hustled and played well. Grantsville picked up a pair of kills from Autumn Dzierzon and Kalli Hammond to grab an 18-15 advantage. Dzierzon came back with a service ace to push the GHS lead to 22-16. Lisa Sandberg added a kill as did Courtney Van Orden and Grantsville sliced it to 2-1 with a 28-18 victory in the third.
Tooele led the fourth set until Grantsville edged ahead on a service ace by Mandy Wilson. Wilson continued to lead the way serving and Grantsville held the lead at 16-14. Tooele tied it at 17, and then grabbed the lead at 19-18 with another kill from Dalton. Tooele sealed the victory with a 25-22 fourth-set win on a kill from Simmons.
Olson was instrumental in the victory for Tooele with six kills, 13 digs and five service aces. “(Olson) led the team in aces last year,” her coach said. Kassidie Russell registered 21 digs in the match
One of Tooele’s top players, Brin Stewart, is set to return on Oct. 15. She has been out with an abdominal strain and hasn’t been able to play in the region matches.
Grantsville played at Ben Lomond Thursday and will host Bear River on Tuesday. Tooele did not play Thursday and will host Ben Lomond Tuesday.