BOUNTIFUL — Breaking down Bountiful volleyball this year, there is a dichotomy of youth and experience.
The young Braves took their lumps early, starting the season 6-5, including three losses to 6A powerhouse Fremont.
They split their first two Region 5 games but, after a three set drubbing by Woods Cross, won the return match and ran the table to finish with a league log of 9-1.
Bountiful now hasn’t lost since Sept. 30 and with a 5A second-round sweep Wednesday over Viewmont, had a winning streak of 10.
Consecutive win No. 11 was more difficult Thursday evening when the top-seeded Braves fought into the state semifinals with a 25-16, 19-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-8 marathon victory over No. 8 Lehi.
The Braves (18-6) beat Lehi in two sets earlier this season, but the rematch was a different story.
“Both teams have improved a lot since that match. The first time we played them, they didn’t have their best player (Avery Shewell),” Bountiful coach Sarah Chism said.
Bountiful got out of the gates with a quick early win in the first set, but that was misleading as to how the match was to go.
Lehi took sets two and three and the Braves were surrounded with a huge task to come back and continue their season.
So it all came down to the last set where Bountiful jumped to a 5-0 lead, led again at 12-8 and closed it out.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum, but we knew if we could serve and pass, and that’s been our focus all season, that we would win. We set our best server (Mia Ray) back at the beginning of the set, and she served it 5-1 to start; that was the difference. Also our setter (Evalyn Chism) did a good job of distributing the ball to our hitters at the right time,” Chism said.
With the way the Braves were playing earlier in the year, they may have lost this match, but the team has grown and matured over time, Chism said.
“We tried some things, worked and stayed positive and stayed believing and now we’re playing good volleyball and peaking at the right time,” Chism added.
Sophomore outside hitter Jordyn Harvey is one of the players who has it going when it matters most, and she had a monster game with 21 kills, 17 digs and five aces.
“If I play good, it helps my team get hyped and I just tried my hardest and give it all for my team and score as many points as possible so we can continue on,” Harvey said.
Evalyn Chism, another sophomore, led Bountiful with 43 assists and primed the offense for big hitters including junior Emrie Satuala who had 10 kills.
This was Bountiful’s first five-set match of the season and the young team was prepared to meet the challenge.
“We’ve practiced coming back from behind all season and having that mental toughness. From the beginning, coach Chism has been really good teaching us about grit,” Harvey said. “That helped us a lot, we’re good to go, like hey, we’ve done this before, we know how to do this, we’ve got this game.”
PLEASANT GROVE 3, SYRACUSE 0
Syracuse bowed out of the 6A playoffs with a 25-23, 25-18, 25-19 loss in the quarterfinals. Megan Chandler and Andie Thomas each had 10 kills.