OREM -- There were few surprises on Friday at the state 3-A volleyball tournament at Utah Valley University's UCCU Center.
As usual, the Southern Utah teams out of Region 9 dominated the competition. Also as usual, Morgan crashed the party.
The top three seeds in Region 9 - Desert Hills, Hurricane and Snow Canyon - each won both of their matches on the first day, dispatching region champs North Sanpete and Tooele in the process. That leaves Desert Hills and Morgan as the two remaining No. 1 seeds and they'll play each other in today's semifinal round at 10:30 a.m.
In the first round, Morgan knocked off Region 9's fourth place team, Dixie, in four games, 25-15, 25-21, 22-25, 25-20. McKenzie Schenk and Jaiden Farr had 13 kills apiece and each had a solo block to lead the Trojans. Farr added six digs and a pair of service aces.
While most expected the Trojans to beat Dixie, playing the teams from down south is a tall order and Morgan had its hands full at times against the Flyers.
"We knew that first one would be tough," Morgan coach Liz Wiscombe said. "That southern region has got some great teams. Even their fourth place team is tough. They're tried and tested down there and that's an advantage that they have."
"(The match against Dixie) showed us that we can't walk in here," Schenk said. "We need to bring our 'A' game every time. I think everybody gets a little jittery in that first game. That whole game was a little bit off, but we got through it."
Against the Flyers, setter Kristi Rhead contributed 22 set assists, six digs, four kills, three blocks and an ace, while Jorry Randall added 17 set assists and an ace. Kennedy Wortman chipped in with eight kills, four digs and two aces and libero Shaylie Duncan added seven digs and three aces.
Morgan had a much easier time of it against Stansbury in the quarterfinals. The Stallions were coming off a thrilling five-set win over Carbon, but didn't offer much resistance against the stronger Trojans. Morgan finished with a three-game sweep, 25-9, 25-16, 25-11, allowing Wiscombe to nearly empty her bench as the match wound down.
"Anytime you can get into the semifinals at the 3-A state tournament it's a great accomplishment and we're excited about it," Wiscombe said. "The thing I like to see is the excitement when somebody does something well. Our energy level was high at times. We just need to be more consistent."
Wortman, a sophomore outside hitter, led the Trojans with 10 kills against the Stallions. She also served two aces. Schenk added seven kills and two aces, while Farr had five kills and a solo block. In all, the Trojans recorded 12 service aces against Stansbury. Their blocking was also impressive, with sophomore Aubrey Saunders and freshman Anna Cox contributing two blocks apiece.
Rhead and Randall had 15 and 13 set assists, respectively, while Duncan added seven digs.
The Trojans now move on to face Blair Bliss and the Desert Hills Thunder, the defending 3-A champions.
"They're No. 1 down south and we're No. 1 up north," Wiscombe said. "It should be a good match. They won it last year so the heat's on them. We'll be ready to go."
"We're going in confident," Schenk said about the semifinals. "We know that we can play with them and know that we are also a team to beat. We're not nervous, we're excited."
Also in the 3-A tournament were the Bear River Bears. But their playoff experience was over by lunchtime.
Most disappointing to coach Megan Cooper was the Bears' loss to Payson in the opening round in what she thought was a very winnable match. It was especially frustrating because the Bears had won their final two regular season matches to earn the No. 2 seed out of Region 11.
"The way we ended region, we were peaking as a team," Cooper said. "And when we played Tooele, the top team in our region, we only lost by two points in the fifth game. Nobody else had even taken them that far. So to see little things like net errors, communication errors and serving errors make such a big impact here at state was kind of heartbreaking."
Alyssa Park led the Bears with 13 kills and four digs, while Fallon Peterson and Rachel Litchford added four kills apiece. Justyn Rose and Sierra Stokes contributed three kills each. Setter Jenny Bittner recorded 30 set assists and seven digs. Michelle Davis added eight digs for the Bears.
The Bears lost their next match as well, a consolation bracket loss to Park City, 25-16, 25-17, 25-21.
In the 2-A tournament, Layton Christian represented themselves well against a very strong team from Emery, but in the end didn't have enough to overcome the Spartans' strong serving and defense. The Eagles went down in four sets, 25-16, 25-19, 22-25, 27-25.
After losing the first two games, the Eagles found themselves trailing 21-14 in the third set and looked as though they would get run out of the tournament in a hurry. But a furious comeback, spurred by the serving of Felicia Marshall, helped them capture Game 3, 25-22.
Layton Christian, playing primarily with three freshman, a sophomore and three seniors, then took Emery to the very limit in Game 4, but came up just short.
"We've got some players with some inexperience and some with awesome experience," LCA coach Tom Hubbard said. "It's kind of finding a balance and making the two work. When they get it and it happens, then they're on fire and that's what you saw later on. They took it to one of the best teams in the state. (Losing) is going to be awful tough for them and they're going to beat themselves up over it, but they shouldn't."
Felicia Marshall led the Eagles with 13 kills and 13 digs, while Vanessa Marshall added 10 kills and 10 digs. Jordan Czenkus contributed two kills and six digs and Brianne Nichols had 23 set assists and five digs. Freshman libero Mikaela Greenamyer had six digs, while fellow freshman Kylie Goodwin and Hannah Perry played strong at the net, with one solo block and one assisted block each.
In the consolation round, Kanab knocked LCA out of the tournament with a three-game sweep of the Eagles, 25-21, 25-11, 25-19.
* Bonneville def. Mountain Crest 19-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, 16-14: At Hyrum, the Lakers' Sam Filiaga had a career-high 15 kills, two block assists and four digs; Cortney Porter had 10 kills, one solo block, a block assist, one assist, 13 digs and one ace; Taylor Anderson had nine kills, 10 digs and two aces; setter Elora Penrod had 23 assists and four digs; setter Andy Hancock had 13 assists and 14 digs; and libero Haylee Sotomayor had 28 digs and three assists for Bonneville (16-14 overall, 8-4 league), which is Region 5's No. 2 seed for next week's state 4-A tournament with a season sweep of the Mustangs (21-10, 8-4).
Standard-Examiner reporter Dennis Larsen contributed to this report.