SYRACUSE — One of the reasons some in the 6A high school volleyball community are taking the first UHSAA RPI rankings with a grain of salt is because of sample size, or for some teams, the lack thereof.
The top three teams in 6A as of Tuesday morning were Fremont, Pleasant Grove and Copper Hills, who had played 15, 14 and 16 matches respectively coming to that point. Each team played a pre-region tournament.
The No. 4 team was Syracuse, who had played seven matches to that point. The Titans opted for tournaments on back-to-back weekends in October instead of a pre-region tournament in August.
So Syracuse is still working out things on the court that other teams aren't working out as much, which might not seem obvious when looking at its 25-21, 25-22, 25-22 sweep against Clearfield (1-8, 1-7 Region 1) on Tuesday.
"Teams are going to be better, they're going to learn to adapt and we've got to learn to adapt as well and adjust," Titans coach Corrie Vigil said. "We have to make adjustments faster, we're not doing that right now, but we'll get better at it."
There were enough errors by both teams to go around in the first set. Syracuse picked itself up for long enough to turn a consistent two-point contest into a 21-12 lead.
Clearfield threw the Titans (7-1, 7-1 Region 1) a wrench and won eight of the next 10 points, including three via blocks, to force a Syracuse timeout at 23-20.
The Titans regrouped and won the set, but they weren't exactly happy with how things transpired. Sometimes, winning without your mojo is beneficial, especially in volleyball when teams are scrambling to create good hitting opportunities more often than not.
Clearfield certainly didn't play like a one-win team, nor did it look like a team that had any interest in quitting.
Trailing 19-15 in the second set, the Falcons won the next six points to go up 21-19 and force a Syracuse timeout.
"I think we sometimes expect teams to just roll over and let us have it. That's not the case at all, teams are going to be better and figure us out and adjust, we've got to get better at that too," Vigil said.
Missy Mortensen was at the middle of two of the winning points, putting in a kill and blocking a Syracuse hit right up the middle. Mortensen hit a tip over the net to give CHS a 22-21 advantage and a real shot at winning the set.
True to form, the Titans regrouped again, won the second set and held off another late run by Clearfield in the third set.
Syracuse outside hitter Megan Chandler delivered a big hit late in the first set to swing the tide toward the Titans, served an ace late in the second set one point before a set-ending kill, then had two kills on two of the final three points of the third set.
Chandler led Syracuse with 12 kills, Katee Stromberg hit 11, setter Hailee Garcia spread out 25 assists and the Titans had 13 service aces as a team.
Consider Syracuse won the three sets by four, three and three points (a total of 10), and those 13 aces look pretty important.