OREM — Farmington High’s volleyball team advanced to the 5A state semifinals, winning both of its matches Thursday in straight sets, controlling just about every point and every set, save for a brief slip-up in the third set of the Phoenix’s quarterfinal win over Skyline.

And even then, it was brief.

Down 8-3 to start the third set, Farmington called timeout. Head coach April Painter had one message for the team in the huddle.

Play to win, don’t play “not to lose.”

“I want that stuck in their heads. That’s what we’re doing, that’s what we’re here to do is to play to win. When somebody feels that side of it instead of playing not to lose, it provides a lot more confidence, power and they did a great job turning it around,” Painter said.

It’s a coaching strategy rooted in positive reinforcement. Encourage something, don’t discourage something.

It allows for an aggressive approach instead of a careful, walking-on-eggshells approach.

The 8-3 deficit coming out of the timeout was soon a 9-9 tie, a 13-13 tie and a 25-17 third-set win for the Phoenix following wins of 25-16 and 25-15 in the first two sets.

“We just kept pushing and pushing, point after point,” senior outside hitter Hannah Howard said. “(Skyline is) fighting, they’ve got nothing to lose and so they’re fighting for everything.”

Howard and fellow senior Kait White provided numerous big hits in both matches on Thursday, with White getting some big blocks to go in during the second-round match against Murray earlier Thursday morning.

With an 18-14 lead, Alyssa Skabelund blocked a shot straight down. The very next point, Amber Beddes stuffed a shot, giving Farmington a big ‘wow’ play.

All around, the Phoenix had its mojo against a Skyline team that bested Bountiful — the first team to take Farmington to five sets this season — earlier in the second round.

“Skyline’s got some great hitters, great outsides, and I was like, ‘That ball’s down,’ and all of a sudden I have someone throwing an arm out and getting it up,” Painter said.

Farmington now plays No. 4 seed Salem Hills at 10 a.m. Saturday at Utah Valley University in the semifinals with a very real chance to win its maiden state volleyball championship.

FARMINGTON 3, MURRAY 0

Farmington needed just 53 minutes to sweep Murray in straight sets 25-16, 25-13, 25-9, in the teams’ second-round match on Thursday morning.

The points were over pretty fast, save for a couple of important, long rallies midway through the first set that the Phoenix won, snuffing out any chance of a Spartan fightback.

SKYLINE 3, BOUNTIFUL 0

OREM — No. 9-seed Bountiful fell in straight sets to 8-seed Skyline (22-8) by scores of 25-20, 25-23, 25-18.

The loss sent the Braves (17-13) to the consolation bracket.

BOUNTIFUL 3, MURRAY 1

OREM — Bountiful advanced in the consolation bracket win a victory over 16-seed Murray (15-15). Scores were 25-22, 25-16, 24-26, 25-9.

Jordyn Harvey led the Braves (18-12) with 16 kills. Emrie Satuala added seven kills and two blocks. Bountiful served 12 aces in the match.

Bountiful advances to an all-Region 5 affair, where the Braves will face 13-seed Woods Cross in the consolation semifinals at 9 a.m. Friday.

PARK CITY 3, BOX ELDER 1

OREM — No. 12 Box Elder lost to No. 5 Park City (24-7) by scores of 26-24, 25-12, 22-25, 25-23.

The loss dropped the Bees (12-15) into the consolation bracket.

SALEM HILLS 3,

WOODS CROSS 1

OREM — No. 13 seed Woods Cross (10-13) fell to 4-seed Salem Hills (26-3) by scores of 25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 25-23.

WOODS CROSS 3, BOX ELDER 1

OREM — In an all-Region 5 consolation bracket matchup, 13-seed Woods Cross ended the season of 12-seed Box Elder by s

cores of 18-25, 25-12, 25-22, 25-19.

Box Elder ends the season at 12-16 overall, and 6-4 in

Region 5. Woods Cross will face Region 5 foe Bountiful at 9 a.m. Friday in further consolation play.

Justin Johnson contributed to score reports.

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