OREM — Every team talks about wanting to win a state championship.
But after three years of wanting and wishing, Timpview head coach Kristen Bailey told her team even the deepest desire just wasn't enough.
"I said, 'Ladies, we need to practice like state champions if that's our goal'," said Bailey after the T-birds came back from a two-set deficit to defeat region-rival Salem Hills 22-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 16-14. "They draw (this confidence) from working so hard. We've had two-a-days all season."
The T-birds committed to getting up early two days a week for a few extra hours of refining the skills that would win them the 4A state title Saturday night at UVU's UCCU Center.
"It was coach's idea, but we all jumped right on it," said Jessie Jorgensen, who earned All-Tournament MVP honors with one solid performance after another. "We knew we needed the extra work."
Bailey said trying to convince players they were capable of great things was difficult in the face of the reality they lived every season. In each of the past three seasons, the team won just a single region game.
"We've worked constantly for the last three years to change that mentality," she said. "It's not an easy thing to do."
She tirelessly started a club program, reached out to feeder schools and programs. This year, the team started better than they had in years.
"For a team trying to turn things around, getting those early season wins was crucial," Bailey said. "Once we started winning, they started believing. It wasn't, 'Wouldn't it be nice to win.' Winning became an expectation."
So a team that hadn't been to the 4A tournament in 13 years earned a berth into the state championship match with a semifinal win over Skyline. And then, rather quickly, the T-birds lost the first two sets of the title match Saturday night.
The Skyhawks owned the first two sets of the match thanks to tremendous hitting by junior outside Macky Treanor.
But Bailey reminded them of other teams, in this very tournament, that had been down 0-2 and then come back to win. One of them was standing on the other side of the net from them.
The T-birds admitted to a few doubts when they were down two sets to a team that had already beaten them twice in region play.
"I was nervous," said Megan Huddleston with a smile. "But this is all worth it. We just kept playing and let (the match) take its course."
The momentum shifted back and forth between the two teams who battled fiercely for every point.
"It's heartbreaking for the girls," said Salem Hills head coach Kathy Treanor, "having beaten them twice in our region. But the teams are very, very equal this year."
Treanor said Macky, her daughter, struggled with back pain the entire match.
"She was a little hesitant, and she couldn't jump serve, but it was mind over matter," she said. "She did all she could."
Both teams had some big blocks, but none bigger than Lennon Mangum's final block to win the match.
Sophomore outside Lauryn Dela Cruz finished with 20 kills, while Ayame Kuratsu, a foreign exchange student from Japan, earned 14 kills. Jorgensen added 24 assists to her 12 kills, while Huddleston had 23 assists.
Libero Katie Jamison finished with 23 digs, but at one point her coach asked her to dig even deeper.3 comments on this story
"I got after her," said Bailey. "I said, 'Katie, are you going to end your season with dropped balls in front of your face?'"
Jamison said she was not angry when her coach got after her.
"That fired me up," she said clutching the trophy. "Because she was right. I want to walk away knowing I did my best. I wanted to do everything I could for my teammates."
4A ALL-TOURNAMENT VOLLEYBALL TEAM
MVP — Jessie Jorgensen, Timpview
Megan Huddleston, Timpview
Katie Jaimson, Timpview
Macky Treanor, Salem Hills
Taylor Christensen, Salem Hills
Nicol Powell, Skyline
Desiree Bradshaw, Olympus