Saturday , November 04, 2017 - 10:09 PM
OREM — One question seemed to jump out following Box Elder’s 5-A championship match against Bountiful Saturday.
Where in the world did the Bees find such great strength?
After failing to show any sort of resilience in two Region 5 matches against Bountiful throughout the season, Box Elder – which was swept in both matches – passed the gut-check test at the most important moment, defeating the two-time defending state champions in five sets at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center.
“These girls since fifth or sixth grade have been talking and thinking and dreaming of playing in a state championship game,” Box Elder coach Kris Harding said. “They’ve thought it, they’ve trained for it … offseason, inseason. They have hearts of giants. That’s where it came from.”
Bountiful didn’t just enter the championship match as two-time defending champs, it entered having not lost a set in the state tournament since 2014. The Braves had won 36 consecutive sets in the state tournament prior to Saturday’s championship.
Box Elder quickly put an end to that streak with a 25-23 victory in the first set.
“I think we always had faith, and then when we came out and won the first game everybody was like … ‘we can do this and then we just kept momentum,” Box Elder’s Andreanna McKee said.
Box Elder needed to be the most resilient in the fifth set after Bountiful won the fourth 27-25. The Bees had match point at 24-23 before the Braves went on a 4-1 run to close it out.
Bountiful took a 3-1 lead in the fifth set, but Box Elder proceeded to rattle off four straight and never trailed again. With the set tied 6-6, the Bees seized control with a 7-0 run. Box Elder won the set 15-8.
McKee, committed to play at Snow College, clinched the championship with a kill.
Box Elder’s resilience started in the first set. After Bountiful jumped ahead 13-7, Box Elder scored four straight. The Bees later used a 7-0 run to take a 19-17 lead and eventually won 25-23.
Bountiful rallied from a 22-19 deficit to win the second set 25-23, but Box Elder commanded the fourth set from the beginning. The Bees used a 6-0 run to take a 7-2 lead and stayed ahead by at least two the rest of the set. Box Elder won the set 25-17, closing on an 8-3 run.
The championship is Box Elder’s third overall and first since 1996. The Bees won the 3-A title in 1977 and the 4-A title in 1996.
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