After two meetings it might seem clear which team is the favorite in 2A, but it could indicate just how competitive this year's tournament will be.
South Sevier defeated defending 2A champion San Juan in the pre-season Tournament of Champions at Skyline High. In fact, the only matches the Broncos have lost were at the Tournament of Champions.
"It was a good tournament for us because we can see what we have to work on," said Bronco coach Cassie Moon. "My kids have all of the talent in the world; we're just trying to get mentally tougher."
The team is led by setter Skyann Flavel.
"She's very good," Moon said. "If Cheyna (Shumway, last year's 2A MVP) wasn't there, Skyann would have started."
Only two starters from last year's championship team remain Kendra Lyman and Gina Meyer.
Despite a winning tradition, this year's squad has their own trail to blaze.
"You can't protect what you haven't won," Moon said. "This year's team is different because they're so quiet. My last two teams have been very loud . . . Kendra and Gina are good players and good kids, but leading is a new role - for them and they team. So far they're doing really well."
"I feel really good about where we're at right now," said Rams coach Lori King. "I think our region is the toughest with San Juan, North Sevier, Manti and Grand."
South Sevier has a number of offensive weapons in Kascee Jacobs, a senior middle blocker, Casey Morgan, junior middle blocker, Shannon Abbott, junior outside hitter, Megan Ence, junior opposite hitter, and Beck Bowell, a junior outside hitter.
Junior setter Amanda Gay runs the team's offense, and while Jacobs is the most ferocious hitter, any of the others can put the ball away.
"I think that's what makes us so good," King said. "We can score in all of the areas."
One thing that excites the coach is that the team has yet to reach its peak.
"We've played well at times, but not consistently well," she said.
Consistency seems to be a problem for several squads and youth may be to blame in part. But the talent among younger players state-wide may also be a factor.
In Region 13, the competition is just as fierce with Beaver defeating Enterprise after a surprising loss to a tough Parowan squad earlier in region play.
The Beavers are a mixture of experience and youth with three seniors on the squad. Setter Darci Eyre runs the offense, while Claire Adams, a defensive specialist, and Keirsten Beard, a middle blocker are the three seniors on a squad that graduated six starters last spring.
The team's libero is sophomore Jacey Blackner, while junior Dianna Starbuck is one of the team's outside hitters. Kalani Gillins, a junior setter, and sophomores Chantel Morgensen, outside hitter, Chanda Hollingshead, an opposite hitter, and Morgan Wood, a middle blocker round out the team's offensive strengths.
"Most of these kids when from freshman team or JV to starting on varsity," said coach Jim Beard. The first-year coach said the team has a tremendous work ethic and has made great strides individually and as a team.
"They just come to get the job done," he said. "We don't even talk about rebuilding in our gym. They come out to win every game."
In the fourth game against Enterprise, the Beavers came back from a 24-18 deficit to win.
"That's a ton of heart for those kids," he said. "I'd say 90 percent of where we're at is due to how hard they work in the gym. They have a great work ethic."
The Wolves struggle with consistency, but have all the makings of a championship team. They're led by senior outside hitter Thella Burtis, and senior defensive specialists, Savanna Jones and Karin Stewart. Juniors Shannon Tohnie, setter, Alyssa Holtom, a 6-4 middle blocker, Jessica Robinson, an outside and middle hitter, join sophomore Jessica Hunter, also an outside and middle to make the Enterprise team very tough at the net."We have seven kids who can hit," said coach Brian Phelps. "We're still a little inconsistent at passing, and we need to make another rise in our improvement...It should be a fun tournament."
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