OREM — Skyline picked up a good pass, the Eagles got a good set, got a good hit and had it slapped back at their feet by a Box Elder blocker.
If anything summed up the Bees’ unbeaten Region 5 campaign and their first two matches at Thursday’s 5A state tournament, it was that scene, playing over and over again at Utah Valley University.
Box Elder beat Wasatch and Skyline in straight sets, advancing to Saturday morning’s semifinal against Skyridge, whose setter Kaitlyn Standifird is a Weber State commit.
But it wasn’t as black-and-white as sweeping two matches.
“You can never take for granted when you win a match at the state tournament. Ever,” Bees head coach Kris Harding said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s round one, round two, any win in a state tournament is huge and these girls know it.”
The Bees went on a 10-2 run to put away Skyline in the first set, punctuated when Tiffany Hortin and Emily Isaacson combined on a block to make the lead 20-10. Hortin led the team with six blocks in the match, a good amount of which came at good times.
Skyline jumped ahead 16-8 in the second set. The Bees couldn’t get anything rolling and their normally buoyant bench was quiet. This set up the most dramatic part of the match: the run.
It started with a couple of Skyline errors, then a kill from the middle by Hortin, then another one by Bekah Bennett and then a point where Box Elder had to scramble twice to stay alive.
“That was — how do I describe it?” Hortin said, pausing. “It was a heart attack.”
All of a sudden it was 16-16 and it was the Eagles, not the Bees, who were flustered. But that run to tie it up wasn’t even the most dramatic part of the set.
The Bees faced three set points and saved them all, winning the second set 29-27. What could’ve been a five-setter instead deflated Skyline, leaving Hortin and middle hitter Jaida Burt to mop up the third set.
“(The second set) was crazy. Serving that was a rush, because it was like, ‘You gotta make this serve...it’s for your team,’” middle hitter Jaida Burt said.
Burt shared the team-high in kills with nine along with Isaacson, getting three of them at the end of the frantic second set. The Bees had 11 kill blocks as a team and setter Annie Mecham had 27 assists.
All they could ask for was to be playing in the semifinals Saturday. Mission accomplished. But not only did Skyridge sweep aside its opponents Thursday, the Falcons were dispatched by in last year’s tournament by Box Elder’s championship-bound squad.
“I think that we know the pressure is there, but we know that we need to pressure back and we just need to play our game and not worry about what other people are thinking about us,” Burt said.
Region 1 booted out of 6A main draw
Luck of the draw or not, Region 1’s volleyball quartet at the state tournament had another rough go of it in the 6A state quarterfinals Thursday.
Syracuse, Fremont, Weber and Northridge all won their first-round matches in the morning, then fell in afternoon quarterfinals. Only the Titans managed to win a set in the quarters.
Syracuse had earlier beaten Cyprus before losing to Bingham in four sets. Fremont swept Hillcrest, then got swept by Copper Hills. Northridge swept Hunter, then ran into the Lone Peak machine.
Weber had the most interesting first-round match, winning a five-set roller coaster against Region 2 champion Granger. Against Pleasant Grove, the Warriors played well and stayed close for the first two sets, but eventually lost in straight sets.
It hit especially hard for Syracuse, which won the Region 1 title for the second year in a row and fell in the quarterfinals.
With the prospect of not having to face Lone Peak or Pleasant Grove until at least the semifinals, the door was open for the Titans to maybe get to the Saturday’s action.
Instead, Bingham played four sets of virtually mistake-free volleyball.
“It’s hard, you go through region and you’re thinking, ‘Ok, we’re prepping for the state tournament,’ but when you get down here it’s a different atmosphere and we’ve got different personnel, you never know sometimes how they’re going to react,” Syracuse head coach Corrie Vigil said.
State tournament scores
First round: Syracuse 3, Cyprus (25-5, 25-5, 25-8); Fremont 3, Hillcrest 0 (25-11, 25-12, 25-17); Northridge 3, Hunter 0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-15); Weber 3, Granger 2 (25-12, 15-25, 25-16, 21-25, 16-14).
Quarterfinals: Bingham 3, Syracuse 1 (25-16, 26-28, 25-7, 25-20); Lone Peak 3, Northridge 0 (25-13, 25-9, 25-14); Pleasant Grove 3, Weber 0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-18); Copper Hills 3, Fremont 0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-19).
First round: Box Elder 3, Wasatch 0 (25-12, 25-17, 25-15); Springville 3, Bountiful 1 (25-16, 20-25, 25-19, 25-17); Timpanogos 3, Woods Cross 2 (20-25, 27-25, 25-19, 22-25, 15-8); Skyridge 3, Farmington 0 (25-7, 25-22, 25-14).
Quarterfinals: Box Elder 3, Skyline 0 (25-11, 29-27, 25-15).