Courtney Sargent, Deseret News
Alta's Lauren Sonntag, left, Nicole Koehler, center, and Ashley Marchant join to block a Bingham hit.

DRAPER — When Bingham's Taeja Afalava smashed a kill to the floor on Alta's side, making the score 14-13 in favor of the Hawks, Alta coach Mike Gansauge called a timeout.

"I told them to have fun," he said of his advice on what could be match point for his team. "That's what this is about, having fun."

The squad followed the coach's advice, and junior outside hitter Kenzie Mitchell slammed one of her team-leading 19 kills to end the five-set match 25-12, 24-23, 22-25, 18-25, 15-13.

It was the first home game for the Hawks, and it was a thrilling way to start the 2008 season, with Alta winning the first two sets, then Bingham taking the third and fourth set and the Hawks eking out a win in the fifth.

"It's the preseason, and we wanted to go five," Gansauge said. "We wanted the crowd to get their money's worth."

Gansauge said he was proud of how the team held on to win the fifth set, but he felt the match should never have gotten to that point.

"I was disappointed in how we played in the third and fourth games," he said. "We didn't battle back like we normally do."

In addition to Mitchell's 19 kills, senior outside hitter Ashley Marchant added 13 kills in helping the Hawks get past the scrappy, athletic Miners. Setters Madison Heizer finished with 16 assists, while Lauren Sonntag earned 23 assists in the win. Mitchell is a transfer from Waterford, and Gansauge said she's been a welcome addition.

"We've moved her around a lot," said Gansauge. "She is also a great right side. I think she fits right in with the team."

Marchant, for one, is glad to add some firepower to the offense that she's led for the last three years.

"I was excited," said Marchant. "She brings a lot to the team."

Mitchell said the variety of positions hasn't been tough to adjust to so far.

"I've learned to hit from everywhere, so I'm fine going where ever coach wants me," she said. "I love it here. It's a wonderful school."

Both girls said they struggled in the third and fourth games because they wanted so badly to win.

"I think we just needed to relax and build each other up," Marchant said. "We were playing more to lose, instead of playing to win."

Bingham played very tough at times as the match seesawed between the two talented teams. The Miners were led by Afalava, a junior transfer from Hawaii and an outside hitter with a vicious jump serve.

"We just didn't come out ready to play those first two games," she said. "We should have won that second game. We were up 10-7 ... but they're playing really good, and they're staying together as a team. We still have some kinks to work out."


E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com