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6A/5A state volleyball: Syracuse libero Rodriguez sets Utah digs record; Bountiful takes 3rd place

By Patrick Carr - Prep Sports Reporter | Nov 5, 2022
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Syracuse High volleyball senior libero Kambree Rodriguez (center, gray jersey) reacts as her teammates and her family celebrate Rodriguez for setting the new all-time state record in digs after the Titans' 6A state tournament third-place match against Skyridge on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.
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Syracuse High's Emily Kenison (left) and Mikelle Neilson (right) jump to block a shot during the Titans' 6A volleyball state tournament third-place match against Skyridge on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Utah Valley University.
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Bountiful High's Jordyn Harvey (center) reaches to pass the ball during the Redhawks' 5A volleyball state tournament third-place match against Maple Mountain on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Utah Valley University.

OREM — Kambree Rodriguez started all four years at libero for Syracuse High’s volleyball team.

The senior came into Saturday’s 6A state semifinals with 1,523 career digs, needing to collect 21 more to tie the state’s all-time career digs record set by Rich High’s Cortney Lamborn in 2011, and 22 to set the record.

“I was cutting it very close,” Rodriguez said. “I think the two teams that we played, they tried to stay away from me as much as possible. It was very close.”

Rodriguez, a Utah State commit, got 33 on Saturday and now holds the career record. Twelve digs came in a semifinal loss against Lone Peak and 21 came in the third-place match against Skyridge.

A dig in volleyball is generally awarded when a defensive player successfully passes an opposing player’s offensive attack attempt.

Therefore, what exactly constitutes a dig can sometimes be up for interpretation, depending on what a stat keeper determines to be a “successful pass” or an opposing players “offensive attack attempt.”

Either way, Rodriguez has the new state record in digs. When exactly she set the record, she has “absolutely no idea,” only that it happened against Skyridge, the final match of her career.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but I feel like it’s a lot of discouraging work. I feel like once you shank a ball, you break down and you don’t want to keep working,” she said.

At a certain point, liberos can look at the position of the opposing hitter’s wrist, elbow or torso to get an idea of where the hit is going.

“I feel like it’s just a lot of reading (opposing players). Reading is a huge part of defense and I feel like it’s just making sure that you’re able to see your hitter,” Rodriguez said. “And a lot of it is effort. If you’re not in the right alignment, you’ve just got to go for it no matter what.”

Her family unfurled two banners after Syracuse lost the third-place match to celebrate her efforts.

Rodriguez looked up and hid her head down her shirt while her teammates, many of whom were still in tears since the season had ended maybe a minute earlier, smiled around her.

“I couldn’t have done it without them, and so I just feel really proud. It’s been a lot of work and something that I’ve looked forward to since my freshman year, a goal that I’ve had in mind,” Rodriguez said.

She probably took the third-place match loss harder than anyone on the team as she took a few extra moments to walk upstairs.

“It’s her senior year, you know. She got her record, she broke the state record, so that’s good,” Syracuse coach Corrie Vigil said.

It wasn’t the day Rodriguez and the Titans envisioned, since they were swept in both matches, but she was happy about the record.

For the second straight year, Syracuse celebrated one of its players setting a career statistical record. Last year, setter Hailee Garcia set the all-time assists record with 3,311.

Timpview setter Silina Damuni broke Garcia’s record on Thursday with 42 assists against Park City, which got her to 3,318 with three tournament matches still to play.

BOUNTIFUL TAKES THIRD IN 5A, SYRACUSE FOURTH IN 6A

Syracuse and Bountiful started Saturday with title-game aspirations. Both lost in their respective classifications’ state semifinals.

Bountiful rallied to win the third-place match while Syracuse lost and took fourth.

No. 7 Syracuse was swept by No. 3 Lone Peak (25-19, 25-14, 25-22) in the 6A semifinals and No. 4 Skyridge (25-17, 25-23, 25-22) in the third-place game.

“They know, we weren’t expected to be here,” Vigil said. “We lost a lot last year and early on in our season, it kind of looked that way. They’re here, they made it and that’s kind of what I told them, there’s something to say for that.”

Vigil lamented inconsistent play by the Titans (23-11) in both matches as contributing factors to being swept, along with the fact they played two very good teams.

“No one wants to end the season with a loss, so we ended with two losses. So that kind of stinks, know what I mean?” Vigil said.

In 5A, No. 1-seeded Bountiful (29-2) lost an emotional, five-set semifinal to No. 5 Timpview (25-21, 16-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-8), then rebounded to beat No. 3 Maple Mountain in five sets (25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12).

“I think we all kind of knew as (our coach) talked to us, this isn’t for us individually, we’re doing this for all of us. And I think that’s greater than trying to win for yourself and I think that kind of pushed us to wanting to finish,” said Bountiful senior outside hitter Jordyn Harvey, who’s committed to Stanford.

The third-place game is a tricky proposition depending on whether a team was or wasn’t necessarily expecting a semifinal run. In Bountiful’s case, it came into Saturday’s semifinal with legitimate aspirations of a repeat 5A title.

The Redhawks lost to the Thunderbirds, jogged into the tunnel and, 15 minutes later, jogged out and played the third-place match.

“I’m proud of all of them and the work that they put in, the fact they stuck it out, gritted out that last win. That was just sheer will, everyone in the gym could see it,” Bountiful coach Sarah Chism said. “They were running on empty. they didn’t have a chance to get food, so they were spent and they just had to give everything they had and they did.”

Bountiful didn’t use any of its allotted warm-up time before the match and showed visible exhaustion during the match, but still rallied for the five-set win.

Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.

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