OREM — The long ride home will be a joyous one for the Richfield Wildcats' volleyball team.
Denying San Juan a repeat title, the Wildcats took home the bragging rights and a 2A state championship trophy Saturday at Utah Valley University.
The Richfield team was well deserving of the final victory, as the Wildcats were the only team to go undefeated through region play (8-0). Talent is abundant on the Richfield squad and the championship was the result of a full team effort.
"Each girl did her job," coach Brett Beagley said. "It really took each one of them."
The Wildcats came out roaring and were on their game despite suffering a loss in the second set.
"We've struggled with the second set all year for some reason," Beagley said. "We rebounded, though, and got it done."
Although the Wildcats bounced back, their victories were narrow. The score went back and forth as San Juan was able to answer time and time again. The third set ended at 26-24 and the final set (25-21) gave Richfield the victory.
"That we were able to bounce back … It says a lot about their heart," Beagley said. "They've got the will of champions."
Megan Bean of Richfield was a key element in the team's success and has been striking fear in the hearts of her opponents since she began her high school career. The junior sent the ball blazing over the net all night and snagged 19 kills in the win.
"It feels amazing," she said. "I couldn't ask for anything better."
According to Bean, the letdown in the second set was due to a lack of consistent passing and an underestimation of the San Juan squad. The Wildcats defeated the Broncos three times this year.
"They're a really good serving team," Bean said. "I think we overlooked them a little after beating them this season."
San Juan was definitely not a team to be overlooked, as the Broncos put up a strong defensive front and kept things tight throughout.
McKale Simpson put up a noble fight, nearly matching Bean's kills with 14 of her own. Teammate Simone Shumway distributed the ball well for the Broncos with 38 assists and 12 digs. Teal Palmer was strong as well with seven kills, two aces and 11 digs.
In spite of the loss, San Juan head coach Cassie Moon is proud of her team's accomplishments and their ability to reach the championship game.
"It's easier than not winning anything," Moon said. The Broncos finished with a 22-11 overall record.
Richfield finished with a 25-9 record on its way to the 2A crown.
"We've been here before but it never gets old," coach Beagley said. "To see the kids experience this. It's priceless."
2A All-Tournament Team
MVP — Megan Bean, Richfield
Sammi Beck, Richfield
Simone Shumway,San Juan
Sloan Roundy, Richfield
Nikita Nelson, Grand
Teal Palmer, San Juan
Riley Lyman, Enterprise
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