The pain of a heartbreaking loss in the 2A championship was still raw when the Enterprise volleyball team began talking about what they needed to do to get back to that 2A title match.
"We start that talk at the end of every year," said Enterprise head coach Brian Phelps of the discussions that took place after the 2A state volleyball tournament last October. "We started the summer, and Tressa (Lyman, last year's 2A MVP) was so outstanding, some of it was that they didn't think it was a possibility. As we played in the summer, they started to see it as a possibility. We knew we needed some of our young kids to come along and they have."
The squad is led by lone senior Summer Terry, an outside hitter. The offense relies on freshmen Riley Lyman and junior Anden Lyman, both Tressa's younger sisters. The offense is run by junior setter Taylor Phelps.
Youth has made the season a little unpredictable, but the squad is playing well when it matters most. Heading into this weekend's tournament, the Wolves are ranked No. 1 after an impressive performance at the Sevier Valley Tournament two weeks ago. They finished in second place after losing another nail-biter to 1A's top-ranked team, Rich.
"It's a good preparation," said Phelps of the tournament, which features some of the best teams in 1A, 2A and 3A.
The trademark of this year's 2A tournament may be that the title could go to just about any team in the playoffs.
"It's whoever performs in those four games," said Phelps.
The classification is very competitive and some of that is young talent, while another aspect is more depth across the board.
"I don't think there is the big power hitters that we've seen," said Phelps. "But the overall play is better — passing serving and that kind of thing."
The Wolves don't have an easy road this weekend when they begin play at UVU on Friday morning. They take on Emery, Region 15's No. 4 seed, in the first round.
The only team to navigate region play without a loss in 2A is Richfield, which is currently ranked second. The Wildcats are led by junior middle blocker Megan Bean, who leads the team in kills and blocks. Richfield opens the tournament with Millard, a No. 4 seed from Region 13. The Wildcats, who were ranked No. 1 after beating San Juan in nonregion play, lost to Enterprise in the SVC tournament.
Defending 2A state champion San Juan started the season ranked No. 1 and for good reason. The Broncos return some talented players from last year's squad, and the program always performs well when it matters most.
The Broncos won the 2A championship five straight years from 2003 to 2007 and then didn't even play for a consolation place in 2008 and 2009. Then the Broncos defeated Enterprise in a thriller last year. The Broncos return first-team all staters Brooke Lyman, a junior, and senior setter Simone Shumway.
San Juan is the No. 2 seed from Region 15, after losing both region matches to Richfield (and one nonregion match) and splitting with Grand, another squad which lost its star player.
Enterprise had a loss to Beaver in the first round of region play, while Waterford won the Region 14 title with one loss to South Summit. The Ravens open the state tournament against Gunnison, a No. 4 seed from Region 16.
Manti competed in 3A last season and the Templars won the Region 16 title with just one loss to North Sevier. Manti starts the state tournament against Rowland Hall, a No. 4 seed from Region 14.
The Beavers open with Grand, which could be the best match of the first round in the tournament.
The 2A state championship match is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
The 3A tournament is equally unpredictable, as last year's 4A state champion, Snow Canyon, drops back down to the 3A ranks this season. The Warriors will try to win a sixth consecutive title (all of those coming against Dixie), but the challenge may be tougher than it was last year in 4A.
Morgan is ranked No. 1, and the Trojans are impressive with wins over 4A's top-ranked team Skyline and 5A's fourth-ranked team and perennial power, Lone Peak, last week.
Snow Canyon is Region 9's top team and opens the state tournament against Uintah. They are led by senior setter Ciara Parker, a three-time 4A MVP and future BYU libero.
Morgan is Region 11's champion and the Trojans open the tournament against Carbon. They are led by senior middle hitter Bailey Farris, who will play volleyball at UVU next year.
Last year's runner-up was Juan Diego and the Soaring Eagle earned Region 10's top seed. The squad is led by setter Jessika Long and hitters Rachel Enloe and Courtney Nagore.
They open the state tournament with a tough draw — Hurricane. Young but very talented, the Tigers might have won a region title if they didn't play in the deep, competitive Region 9.
That promises to be one of the best opening-round matches, while Judge taking on Desert Hills, another ranked Region 9 squad, could be another exciting matchup.
The 3A teams begin play a day earlier than 1A and 2A, with opening-round matches at 3 and 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The 3A championship match will be played at 7 p.m. Friday.
Cindy Stuart returned to coaching volleyball and, within a year, the Rich Rebels are back to being that 1A powerhouse they were under her watch.
The team has a lot of experience and athleticism. Led by seniors Cassidy McKee, the team's setter, and Courtney Lamborn, an outside hitter, the Rebels will be formidable.
Seniors Jami Gregory and Shani Calder and juniors Lynzee Wallentine, Ema Peart and Alisa Peterson round out the athletic squad. Under Stuart's leadership, they've defeated teams in nearly every classification.
The Rebels are hands down the favorite in 1A and have held onto the No. 1 ranking all season. But they could face a challenge from a new rival — Monticello. The Buckaroos have been impressive, beating bigger schools and compiling a 23-3 record. They face either Dugway or Escalante in the first round.
Panguitch is Region 20's top seed, and the team is led by senior Carly Holman. St. Joseph is Region 17's champion and will be led by setter Emmie Oliver and hitters Britt Sederholm and Jessie Bischoff.
The Jayhawks open with Piute, which could be one of the better first-round matches.
The 1A championship match is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday.
All matches at UVU
Dugway/Escalante vs. Monticello, 8 a.m.
Wayne vs. Duchesne, 9:30 a.m.
Piute vs. St. Joseph, 9:30 a.m.
Tabiona vs. Wendover, 8 a.m.
Whitehorse vs. Pangtuitch, 11 a.m.
Tintic vs. Layton Christian, 12:30 p.m.
ICS/Condordia vs. Green River, 12:30 p.m.
Diamond Ranch vs. Rich, 11 a.m.
N. Summit vs. N. Sevier, 8 a.m.
Emery vs. Enterprise, 9:30 a.m.
Millard vs. Richfield, 9:30 a.m.
American Leadership vs. S. Summit, 8 a.m.
Grand vs. Beaver, 11 a.m.
Rowland Hall vs. Manti, 12:30 p.m.
Gunnison vs. Waterford, 12:30 p.m.
Kanab vs. San Juan, 11 a.m.
Spanish Fork vs. Stansbury, 3 p.m.
Uintah vs. Snow Canyon, 3 p.m.
Hurricane vs. Juan Diego, 4:30 p.m.
Bear River vs. N. Sanpete, 4:30 p.m.
Desert Hills vs. Judge Memorial, 3 p.m.
Tooele vs. Delta, 3 p.m.
Carbon vs. Morgan, 4:30 p.m.
Union vs. Dixie, 4:30 p.m.