ST. GEORGE — Missed opportunities at set points cost the Snow Canyon Warriors the 4A volleyball state championship, dropping the title match 3-1 to the No. 1 seeded Sky View Bobcats at Sevier Valley Center on Oct. 28.
The Warriors let two 24-22 set points slip away twice, falling in the third set 26-24 and 29-27 in the decisive fourth set. After taking an early lead and winning the first set, they dropped the final three in their first finals appearance since 2015. The final scores went 25-22, 25-20, 26-24 and 29-27.
“In the third and fourth sets, we had them,” Snow Canyon head coach Markay Thorkelson said. “They just kept serving us tough and kept us out of system, and then we just made mistakes and couldn’t finish.”
The Warriors stormed out of the gate, taking a 19-10 lead in the first set including a stretch of 10 points on 11 serves. They fended off a Bobcat rally to secure the set 25-22.
But Sky View maintained the momentum they built and jumped out to a 8-2 early lead in the next set. It held on for a 25-20 win to tie the series.
After a back-and-forth third set had Snow Canyon up 24-22, it surrendered four straight points to lose the set and fall behind two sets to one.
Set four started equally neck-and-neck, reaching a 15-15 tie. But the Warriors claimed eight of the next 11 serves for a five-point lead. After Sky View rallied for four straight points of their own, Snow Canyon once again reached set point with a two-point lead. But the Bobcats refused to quit once again and forced the win-by-two rule yet again.
After reaching a 27-26 lead and another set point, the Warriors allowed three straight to end their season.
The sixth-seeded Snow Canyon downed No. 11 Ogden in a three-set sweep at home on Oct. 24 in the first round before upsetting Region 9 rival and No. 3 Desert Hills on Oct. 27 in five sets. They then knocked out No. 7 Ridgeline in four sets in the morning on Oct. 28 to advance to the championship match in the afternoon.
It was Snow Canyon’s first trip to the state finals since 2015, the last season before legendary head coach Alaina Parker’s retirement. Parker guided the Warriors to six straight state titles including five in a row from 2006 to 2010. No other head coach in Utah history has more than three state titles.
Despite coming up just short, Snow Canyon hopes the success marks the beginning of a new era in the sun.
“We have a younger crew that is just believing what we’re coaching and teaching them, and so I think we have a lot of tradition that is going to start coming up through and that will do a good job for us down the road.”
The core will retain key pieces in sophomore outside hitter Angie Georgopoulou and junior setter Emma Miller, but will have keyholes to fill. Most noticeably, Thorkelson will have to replace the heavy arm of senior hitter Katie Langford, Region 9 kills leader and commit to Utah State University next fall.
Desert Hills 3, Dixie 1
The Desert Hills Thunder fended off a last-ditch effort from the Dixie Flyers in set four to claim fifth place in the 4A State Tournament. After losing the first two sets, the Flyers rallied to a 25-23 win in the third set. They then took a 24-23 lead in the do-or-die fourth game and a 25-25 tie.
After the Thunder took a 26-25 lead, it gave head coach Craig Allred an opportunity to provide senior Hallie Shakespeare a special moment. Shakespeare was normally substituted for at her turn to serve. But with it being Shakespeare’s last game, coach Allred left her in with a chance to clinch.
In storybook fashion, she slammed her serve through the midcourt and off a defender for an ace, locking down the win. It was only her second ace of the season.
“With it being Hallie’s senior year, we just decided to let her serve,” Allred said. “We just thought we’d give her a shot. To see her get an ace at the end was a pretty neat deal.”
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