Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News
Skyline's Whitney Nilson shows off her jumping ability by spiking against Fremont. She helped the Eagles take second in 5A.

Skyline is more than pleased with its runner-up finish in the girls state volleyball tournament.

That's especially the case since the Eagles had no preseason ranking and because coach Jami Hutchins was disillusioned at a summer camp facility in which he saw his team members faltering in exercises designed to promote teamwork and team unity.

"We are big on tradition," said Hutchins. "We preach being unified."

Every year the Eagles hold a rope course summer camp in which participants are pushed past their comfort zones.

Crossing rivers and climbing trees were two of the events that required helping one another and mutual teamwork. Hutchins did not see a coming together.

"We started out working this year on being a team."

The turning point, he said, was during a tournament in Las Vegas. The Eagles began to get closer during the six-hour bus ride, and they really jelled at the tournament.

"We won the whole thing," said Hutchins of the event, which included 36 teams from Utah, California and Nevada.

"We bonded at this point," Hutchins said. "Then things really began to take off."

To the point that Skyline won the Region 2 title, but Lone Peak was the team to beat at state.

"We knew we were going to be in the final," said Hutchins.

Although Lone Peak won in four games, Skyline led in every single game, sometimes by as many as five points. But Lone Peak showed why it had been the No. 1-ranked team all season.

"We gave them all they could handle," Hutchins said.

Considering where the Eagles came from, they were a pretty happy bunch on the season overall.

The Eagles will lose to graduation senior co-captains Emily Dunn and Whitney Nilson. Dunn played tennis as a freshman, then switched to volleyball full time. Not only a leader on the volleyball team, she served as a student body officer.

"She has been a key factor all year," said Hutchins.

Nilson, who looks to be headed to play at SLCC, will also be missed.

"She has incredible jumping ability," said Hutchins.

Setter Chelsea Fa'alogo, a three-year starter, has committed to play next year at UVSC.

Returning next year for the Eagles will be junior outside hitter Sasha Nasha and sophomores Marissa Powell and Claire Leiser, who will be expected to make a big impact. Junior Julie Hanks is a middle hitter who stepped in this year to cover for injuries.

"She was a key factor in some key wins," said Hutchins.

E-mail: wjewkes@desnews.com