I put the rotation in wrong, so we had to change from a 6-2 to a 5-1 right in the middle of the match, which we had never done. It was like 'The Twilight Zone.' How do you get out of that? —Rich coach Cindy Stuart
OREM — In the second match of the day for the Rich volleyball team, something was a little off.
The Rebels had already defeated Escalante in three sets in the opening round of the 1A state tournament at Utah Valley University on Wednesday afternoon, but their quarterfinal matchup against Milford was not running quite as smooth — until head coach Cindy Stuart made a mistake with her rotation.
“This little girl’s name is E-l-l and I put 11 in, instead of 10, in the wrong spot,” Stuart said of senior Ellen Peart. “And it messed everybody up.”
However, the mishap refocused the Rebels, and spurred the team on to a three-set win — 25-18, 25-21, 25-20 — to clinch a spot in the semifinals Thursday morning.
“I put the rotation in wrong, so we had to change from a 6-2 to a 5-1 right in the middle of the match, which we had never done. It was like 'The Twilight Zone.' How do you get out of that?” Stuart said. “I told the team it was a good thing because we weren’t playing great and then we had something else to think about.”
The Rebels were led in both matches Wednesday by the play of senior Cami Lamborn. She passed 100 percent against Escalante and 92 percent against Milford while also totaling 20 points.
“Passing is the most important part of a volleyball game,” Stuart said, “and she passed flawlessly the first two games. She’s our big hitter and she sat back there and served a ton of points.”
This fall, Lamborn was the only returning veteran for Rich, a team that finished third in the tournament a year ago. Peart, who had 14 points against Escalante and 10 in the match against Milford, played minimally. The team’s third senior, Danielle Huefner, is a varsity newcomer.
“All of them” are new, Stuart said. “Only (Lamborn) started last year. (Peart) played a little libero for us. We have a freshman setter and three sophomores. We are really young. We have no experience out there except for our season. But they’re having fun. They’re so excited to be on this court.”
PIUTE DEF. MONTICELLO: The Thunderbirds upset defending champion Monticello in four sets, winning 25-18, 25-17, 19-25, 25-22. Whitney Westwood led Piute with 22 kills; Shaylee Gleave added 12 kills; and Paige Jessen and Shalyn Bagley combined for 11 blocks.
ST. JOSEPH DEF. MONUMENT VALLEY: The Jayhawks are one step closer to returning to the championship match with a sweeping victory over Southern Utah team Monument Valley. St. Joseph won 25-7, 25-5, 25-14 in its quarterfinal match.
PANGUITCH DEF. DUCHESNE: The Bobcats won six straight sets to advance to a semifinal match with St. Joseph. In the quarterfinal round, Panguitch defeated the Eagles, 25-6, 25-16, 25-8.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.