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Prep volleyball: In 1st-place battle, Morgan pulls out 5-set win at Ogden

By Patrick Carr - Prep Sports Reporter | Sep 22, 2022
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Morgan High's volleyball team celebrates a 5-set win at Ogden High on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.
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Morgan High's Halley Torman (3) and Amaya Rogers (4) jump up to block the hit of Ogden's Audrey Wangsgard (15) during a prep volleyball match at Ogden High School on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.
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Ogden High's Olivia Blackford hits the ball during a prep volleyball match against Morgan at Ogden High School Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.

OGDEN — There’s nothing quite as anxious as a volleyball crowd during a five-set match, what with all the big hits, big serves and momentum swings.

And, the scrambling defensive plays where teams somehow keep the ball off the floor.

Thursday night, Morgan High’s volleyball team saved numerous hits that looked certain to go Ogden’s way, and vice-versa, as the Tigers proved they could play with the Trojans.

Even a point Morgan lost in the deciding fifth set saw players dive on the floor, stretch out an arm and save the ball two separate times.

“I think they believe in each other, and once we got a few great defensive plays, it made a huge difference. They started to really believe we could do this,” Morgan coach Liz Wiscombe said.

In one of the most important volleyball matches at Ogden High in years, the visiting Trojans turned back the orange tide 25-17, 19-25, 25-16, 14-25, 15-11 to win Thursday’s first-place, Region 13 battle against the Tigers.

“Big win, big win for us. Ogden’s definitely one of our biggest competitors, that was a big win for us. I think we should’ve gotten it done in three (sets), but five, still a win,” MHS junior Alyvia Jaffa said.

The level of play between the two teams was befitting of a first-place showdown and created a lively atmosphere.

Both student sections filled in around the second set and made loud, dueling chants during timeouts. Once the home Tigers won the second set to even the match at 1-1, the tension cranked up.

Once the match went to a fifth set after Ogden (12-5, 4-1 Region 13) won the fourth set 25-14, the gym sizzled.

The Trojans leaped to a 7-1 lead in the fifth after some Ogden misses, a big hit by Jaffa and by winning a very long point.

The Tigers fought back and, for a moment, it looked like they would complete the comeback. With Morgan (9-5, 4-0) up 11-7, the teams played out the longest point of the match, and Audrey Wangsgard’s tip won the point for Ogden.

Another Wangsgard hit cut the lead to 11-9. Gentry Criddle’s hit made it 12-10. At 13-10, Ogden’s Rees Bockwoldt, who had 23 kills and 15 digs, hit a kill that found the sideline.

At 13-11, Jaffa let off a huge hit that the Tigers somehow dug out and got back over the net … right back to Jaffa, who pounded the ball a second time and gave the Trojans three match points. They wasted zero time, forced an Ogden error and went home as happy, and relieved, winners.

“I thought our kids stayed together, they didn’t panic at the last game, they just stayed together and did what they needed to do. Everybody did,” Wiscombe said. “Ogden, they played well tonight. They played real well.”

Just like the previous four sets, the team in the lead weathered the storm and won.

The Trojans turned a 5-5 tie in the first set into a 13-7 lead thanks in part to good serving by outside hitter Grace Thomsen. Eventually, they led 18-9, but Ogden libero Emily Blackford’s serve got rolling and the Tigers came back within 18-16.

Jaffa, a 6-foot-2 middle hitter committed to Utah Valley University, promptly slammed a spike for a 19-16 lead, Criddle served all the way to 24-16 and Morgan took the first set 25-17.

As well in the second set, Ogden led by as much as 14-8 with Blackford serving well again. Morgan cut the lead to 18-16.

The Tigers won a couple long rallies to get to 21-17, where they scraped a huge hit by Criddle off the floor and won the point with a combo block by Wangsgard and Ella Tuttle.

Morgan led 16-7 in the third, Ogden came back to 18-13, then Trojans collected themselves and coasted.

The fourth set was probably the anomaly. The Tigers led 8-3, then 10-7 and then 21-9.

Though the match lived up to its billing, the loss was disappointing for Ogden, which has kept virtually the same team together for the last three seasons in an attempt to build the program for this exact moment.

The last time the Tigers won a region volleyball championship, according to the banners in the very gymnasium where Thursday’s electric five-setter played out, was 1984.

For Ogden to break that 38-year streak and subsequently force a split region title down the road, it’ll have to win its next four region games (a tough task) and then do the impossible: beat the Trojans on the road on Oct. 18.

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

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