Girls volleyball: Thunder hope to break through at state

Desert Hills players, including star Lindsay Jones (8) show their joy after the Thunder's upset win over Snow Canyon Tuesday night, Sept. 18, 2012. | Photo by Robert Hoppie

OREM – As much as any sport, volleyball takes a dedicated coach that motivates a variety of players to play at a high level.

Class 3A in Utah has a couple of the best in Alaina Parker at Snow Canyon, who helped the Warriors win five straight titles from 2006-2010 and Liz Wiscombe, who has a total of 18 titles at Delta and Morgan, including the 2011 championship.

Wiscombe, who is the state record-holder for those 18 titles, also has 685 career wins and an amazing 48 straight wins a decade ago at Morgan, which are both also state records. Her team returns to the state tournament Friday and Saturday as the defending champions.

With Wiscombe and Parker in the 3A ranks, it’s hard to believe anyone but Morgan or Snow Canyon will win the title.

“You know, there are a lot of contenders this year,” Desert Hills coach Jill Swaney said. “Of course Snow Canyon is great and Morgan is always good, but we’re going to go there and see if we can make some noise. And Juan Diego has a good team. And Judge Memorial has really being doing some good things. It’s just going to come down to who wants it more.”

The Thunder have already done some landmark things this season, including beating Snow Canyon at their place and unseating the Warriors as Region 9 champs. What has made the difference?

Snow Canyon’s Natalie Swann (14) hits into a stone wall created by Desert Hills blockers Alex Garrett (3) and Emily Purdy during the Thunder’s upset win Tuesday night, Sept. 18, 2012. | Photo by Robert Hoppie

“This team, they’ve learned to share the spotlight,” Swaney said. “It doesn’t matter who makes the big play. We celebrate our successes as a team and each night it seems like it has been a different player.”

Led by Lindsay Jones and Blair Bliss, Desert Hills went 24-5 this year, with an 11-1 region record. That lone loss was to Snow Canyon.

With Jordan Johnston and Megan Leavitt (among others) leading the way, the Warriors finished 10-2 as they also dropped a match to Dixie. But you can bet both teams will be contending deep into the two-day state tourney.

The Lady Trojans were 12-0 in a weak Region 11, but are the favorite in the state tourney. Judge and Juan Diego battled it out in Region 10 with the Bulldogs (28-2, 10-0) beating out the Soaring Eagle (21-7, 8-2) for the region title.

Delta took the crown in another weak region, going 9-1 in Region 12. The Rabbits will be a darkhorse at best.

It is a double-elimination consolation bracket, which means a team must win every match to become state champion, although you still play with one loss with a chance to place third through eighth.

Hurricane is also in the tourney. The Tigers open at 9:30 a.m. Friday against Delta. Desert Hills also plays at 9:30 a.m. against Payson. Snow Canyon and Dixie both tip off at 11 a.m. With the Warriors taking on Spanish Fork and the Flyers battling North Sanpete.

The second round takes place Friday afternoon and evening with the third round going early Saturday morning. Potential second round matches are Desert hills vs. Juan Diego (3:30 p.m.) and Snow Canyon vs. Judge (also 3:30 p.m.). Dixie could potentially face defending-champ Morgan in the second round.

Teams may play four matches in two days of action. The state championship match is Saturday at 8 p.m.

All games are at Utah Valley University’s McKay Events Center. The bracket is here.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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