BRIGHAM CITY — Block parties have not, in fact, disappeared. Box Elder’s volleyball team made sure everyone knew that block parties are, in fact, very much alive.
Time after time, Bountiful setter Kaitlyn Pollard would toss up a perfect ball for a Braves player to hit, they’d hit it hard and it would come right back even harder.
The winner of Thursday's 5A state title game was no different from the last time these two teams met more than 10 months ago. Box Elder (13-2, 4-0 Region 5) won, sweeping Bountiful 25-17, 25-14, 25-12.
The three-set sweep was different than the five-set title match, however.
Tiffany Horton and setter Annie Mecham started the block party on the fourth point of the match. Both of their blocks went out of bounds, but that was not a sign of things to come.
Emily Isaacson, who led the Bees with 14 kills, notched two of those kills over the next five points and Box Elder really didn’t look back the rest of the night.
“We’re just focusing on this year and, first of all, region,” Isaacson said. “Blocking is our strength, so I was happy with that.”
Bountiful (7-7, 2-2 Region 5) graduated the majority of its starters from last year’s region championship team but appears to have reloaded, despite being young.
Pollard, along with the hard-hitting Kennedy Poulton and Baily Jenkins, are going to be tough for other teams to handle this season.
“Coming up here and playing in this gym, this is a tough place to play,” Braves head coach Sarah Chism said. “I think our girls played really steady and didn’t get rattled by their crowd.”
But on this night, the Bees’ blockers were in the right place and its hitters were consistent. It also helps when five starters stand 5-foot-11 or taller. It was too much for the Braves.
Gracie Gunderson led the team with six kill blocks and Jaida Burt, one of the Bees’ six-rotation threats, had four to go along with 12 digs and six kills.
“It’s definitely an emotional game no matter how you look at it,” Box Elder head coach Kris Harding said.
“Our goal, we talked coming in, was to make sure we played off of their emotion in a positive way and didn’t let us get in any type of a funk.”
After Box Elder went ahead 21-11 in the first set, Bountiful cut the lead to 21-16 with a big hit by Jenkins. From then on out, the Bees were winning two or three points for every Braves point and built big, early leads in the second and third sets.