Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Alta's Aly Astle fires a shot into the block of Brighton's Aurie Jo Robinson (left) and Kelly Maddock on Thursday afternoon.

SANDY — Sami Brunatti rained down terror, mayhem and destruction Thursday afternoon on Alta's volleyball team to eliminate the Hawks from the state playoffs and lead her Brighton Bengals to a 3-1 win.

However, after the match, she deflected all praise from herself and gave her team credit for the win.

"My team got me the ball," she said.

Her coach, Kathy Mendenhall, agreed saying, "This was our best match of the year in that regard. If we can get the ball to her, that's how we can win. If we can't get her the ball, we struggle."

The Hawks looked like the team that was struggling. As a middle blocker, Brunatti was there to block, deflect or intimidate on nearly every ball set by Alta. And her specialty was the short set, which she slammed for mostly clean kills and those that weren't had no no chance of being returned. She totaled a season-high 19 kills and six blocks.

"This was my best game," Brunatti said. "I love to play Alta. I have a lot of friends on their team."

Setter Lori Mendenhall contributed 38 assists and outside hitter Kelly Maddock knocked down 14 kills as both recorded their best game of the year also for the Bengals. Brighton appears to be peaking for the state tournament.

The first game saw Brighton jump out to the early lead then the Hawks tied it at 8-8. From there, it was close the rest of the way, but the Bengals prevailed 25-21. This game was ho-hum, though, compared to the next one.

Game 2 featured Alta's Corinne Crump, who has committed to play for the University of Utah, break a 5-5 tie with her serving, staking the Hawks to a 9-5 lead. Brunatti slammed one down to end the run, but the Hawks still built an 11-7 lead largely behind Viansa Bluth.

The Hawks upped the score to 15-11. Then the Bengals' Megan Johnson put together a serving string of her own. With the score at 16-15 for Alta, Brunatti re-entered the game after sitting out a stint for a back line rotation.

She must have decided to take it personally, or maybe just wanted to beat her friends. But whatever inspired her, she flat out took over the game. The Hawks didn't score again.

Brunatti started the third game right where she left off in the second, slamming one over the middle and doing most of the damage in building an 8-4 lead for the Bengals. But some untimely rotations when she went out of the game gave the Hawks life, and they managed a 22-16 victory.

In the fourth game, Brighton won easily 25-12.


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