CEDAR CITY — The Panguitch Lady Bobcats won their third consecutive state 1A volleyball championship Saturday.
Top-seeded Panguitch capped off its 24-4 season by winning all four of its matches during the two-day tournament staged at Utah Valley University in Orem Nov. 1-2. Three of the matches were 3-0 sweeps, including both of Friday’s contests, when the Lady Bobcats defeated Tintic and Water Canyon.
Panguitch dropped just one set during the tournament, losing the third set of the semifinals 20-25 on Saturday morning before bouncing back to defeat Rich in the fourth and final set, 25-14.
“I think the girls were very focused, very ready to go,” Panguitch head coach Troy Norris told Cedar City News. “Rich is just a good team. They take care of the ball really well and attack.”
“We got out to a really good start on Rich,” Norris added. “We jumped down on them 8-0 in the very first game, and so that was big. We won the first two sets, and then in the third set they beat us. But then we came back and finished strong.”
After defeating Rich Saturday morning, the Lady Bobcats advanced to the finals that evening, where they cruised past Milford handily, winning 25-12, 25-10 and 25-10.
The victory marked Panguitch’s third straight state volleyball title and the school’s eighth overall since 2007.
Senior Taylia Norris, the coach’s daughter, was one of a handful of volleyball players who also ran cross-country for the Lady Bobcats. At the recent state championship meet Oct. 23, Norris won her third straight individual 1A state cross-country title, crossing the finish line in 19:17 and helping the Bobcats to a second-place team finish, behind Milford.
Taylia Norris was also named to the Utah High School Activities Association’s prestigious Academic All-State team in both sports. She joined teammates Tana Frandsen and Mataya Barney on the Academic All-State team for volleyball and joined Camri Fischer and Hallie Palmer in receiving cross-country academic honors for Panguitch.
Troy Norris said the volleyball team’s five seniors (Taylia Norris, Frandsen, Barne, Fischer and Kiesa Miller) have been playing volleyball together since they were in fifth grade.
The Lady Bobcats’ solid 11-player roster also included juniors Lexi Griffin and Brianna Stowe, plus sophomores Abbee Holman, Brooklyn Brinkerhoff, Faith Owens and Hailee Eyre.
“We’ve always played a lot of girls,” coach Norris said. “The girls on the bench are very solid and they don’t hurt us when they come in at all.”
Norris said the fact that every player contributed unselfishly played a major role in the team’s success.
“We pass the ball,” he said. “That might be our biggest strength. Passing and defense. We’ve got really good girls that pass the serve.”
Norris said he’s expecting the Lady Bobcats to remain competitive next year, even though they’ll lose five players to graduation.
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