This Thursday is a certain type of madness, a madness known to many. It’s not March Madness, it’s try-and-find-a-parking-spot madness.
The 6A/5A state volleyball tournament begins Thursday at Utah Valley University in Orem promptly at 9 a.m. If you’re traveling from Box Elder, Weber or Davis Counties, plan to leave a little early to accommodate for the usual southbound traffic delays in the morning.
Until Thursday (or if you’re stuck in traffic and have the ability to do so), here’s some things to keep an eye on in the 6A and 5A tournaments.
Region 1’s good and bad draw
Last year, Syracuse and Fremont both stomped over their first-round foes and then were stomped by perennial powers Lone Peak and Pleasant Grove in the next round.
This year, the way the bracket aligns, neither LP or PG would come about until the semifinals at the earliest — that is, if either the Titans or Silver Wolves get that far.
After the first-round matches against Region 2 opposition, either Herriman or Bingham would await Syracuse and likely top-seeded Copper Hills would await Fremont.
If anything, it helps for Syracuse and Fremont that they both come in on winning streaks. Syracuse has won its last eight matches overall (including two tournament matches) and its last 10 best-of-five matches.
The Titans’ strength comes in their balance. Four players have 134 kills or more, led by Megan Chandler’s 242.
Fremont won its last three for a strong region campaign finish. It was tough sledding as the Silver Wolves had one of their better outside hitters, Haylee Doxey, miss most of the year with injury. Hannah Stahle, Hoku Sagapolu and Mesia Child have come in to shoulder the hitting load.
Either way, for any of them to make a deep run, they’re going to have to beat somebody really good to get a crack at the two title favorites (Lone Peak and Pleasant Grove).
Northridge is the No. 3 season by way of beating Weber twice. The Knights are seemingly always in the playoffs and last year knocked off a top seed. It might not matter that two sophomores who are light on state-tournament experience — Karli Nielson and Alex Ivory — do most of the hitting.
After missing the playoffs last year, Weber returns as the No. 3 seed. Setter Chelsea Weaver (449 assists) orchestrates a strong attack led by Sarah Longhurst (230 kills) and Alyssa Hansen (211).
Box Elder’s title defense
Pretty much everyone who’s wanted a shot at the defending 5A state champions this year has met the hammer. Can the Bees win another championship? They certainly have the team to do it. Box Elder can pass, block, hit, serve and scramble for points.
But either round the Bees go in, they could see teams hungry for revenge. They beat Timpview last year in the first round and could see the Thunderbirds again in the quarters should Box Elder beat Wasatch in the first round.
A potential semifinal against Skyridge, another team Box Elder beat last year, awaits as well. What if the Bees get to the championship game, where potentially Corner Canyon or Bountiful could be? Box Elder beat both those squads last year. The Bees will truly get everyone’s best game at every single turn.
Bountiful and Woods Cross are on the other side of the bracket and the tournament field probably remembers how a pair of Region 5 teams played in the state title game and then how the Wildcats took third.
Farmington’s first-ever state tournament begins against Skyridge in the first round.
6A/5A state tournament matchups (all at Utah Valley University):
9 a.m. — Syracuse vs. Cyprus, Weber vs. Granger
10:30 a.m. — Northridge vs. Hunter, Fremont vs. Hillcrest
3:30 p.m. — Box Elder vs. Wasatch, Farmington vs. Skyridge
5 p.m. — Bountiful vs. Springville, Woods Cross vs. Timpanogos