As great as last year was, we really focus on each year. It’s a different team, different scenarios, and every school we play will bring different challenges. We’re glad to have the experience of last year to build on. —Sky View coach Malayna Knowles
All of the players who will try to defend the 4A state volleyball title for Sky View High School this weekend were on the roster for last year’s win.
But only one of them was on the floor.
And that creates a very different dynamic for the Bobcats as they prepare for Thursday’s opening rounds of the 4A state tournament at UVU’s UCCU Center in Orem.
“We’re just excited to be there again,” said Sky View head coach Malayna Knowles. “We’re excited to have a chance to compete again and grateful for the last year’s experience.” Only Taylor Duryea returns from last year’s team, which won the school’s first volleyball title since 1994. Defending a title they didn’t earn can be a heavy burden, but Knowles said they’ve addressed that issue.
“It’s something we talked about at the beginning of the season,” Knowles said. “As great as last year was, we really focus on each year. It’s a different team, different scenarios, and every school we play will bring different challenges. We’re glad to have the experience of last year to build on.”
And Knowles knows that everything can change in the postseason.
“At this point in the season, (teams) have improved, things have changed, and all that really matters is that somebody comes in and plays for two days, four games as best they can,” she said. “Anybody can come in and do that, so why not us?” In addition to Duryea, Shannon Swenson, Madi Kramer, Chloe Oki and Erica Thompson have played well for the second-ranked Bobcats.
Sky View didn’t just win the Region 5 title without a loss, the Bobcats didn’t lose a single set in league play.
The top-ranked team in 4A is last year’s runner-up — Timpview. The T-birds also navigated region play without a single loss, and in fact, the only set the team’s lost since the beginning of the season was a 2-1 win over 5A’s third-ranked Bingham.
The T-birds are loaded with talent, and most of the players were on last year’s second-place team. The squad is led by Lauren DelaCruz, Jessie Jorgensen and Lacy Haddock.
Sky View will take on Region 6’s fourth-seeded Clearfield at 9 a.m. Thursday, while Timpview, in the opposite bracket, will take on Region 7’s fourth seed, Timpanogos, at 10:30 a.m. Winners and losers play again at noon and 1:30 p.m.
Third-ranked Woods Cross also managed to win a region title without a loss, and the Wildcats will face Box Elder at 9 a.m.
Fourth-ranked Skyline is the only region champion to lose a match, but the Eagles have playoff experience that will serve them well this weekend. They take on Provo at 10:30 a.m. and have relied on leadership from Sarah Osterloh and Hannah Stevens this season.
Fifth-ranked Bountiful may have the toughest matchup as the Braves face Mountain Crest in the first round. The Braves are led by Sydney Brandon.
The first two rounds of the tournament will be Thursday with the semi-finals and championship match on Saturday. The 4A state title match is scheduled for 5:30 Saturday.