We always have felt that that second round has kind of been a monkey on our back, so we’re really thrilled to find a way to get out of that second round. —North Sanpete head coach Rickie Stewart
OREM — Even though the North Sanpete girls volleyball team had already played a match earlier in the day, the Hawks were still full of energy. After every point they won, the Hawks would gather together in a huddle, jump and cheer.
“We are a very emotional team. When we’re emotional, we play well and when we have a lot of energy, we play well. It’s one of those things that you have to control,” North Sanpete head coach Rickie Stewart said.
Despite the physical toll of playing two matches in one day, the Hawks never lost energy.
“I think they’re ready to go. Once you get in this building, the energy is enough to keep you going. You can gut through anything once you get in this building. It’s an exciting time, with people all around you playing, and it’s one of those things you look forward to the state tournament just because of the energy and the excitement,” Stewart said.
North Sanpete defeated San Juan 3-1 (25-18, 14-25, 25-15, 25-21) to advance to the UHSAA 3A state tournament semifinals at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center, where the Hawks will take on Union.
“It is a big deal. We always have felt that that second round has kind of been a monkey on our back, so we’re really thrilled to find a way to get out of that second round,” Stewart said. “We said all along that we’re tired of fifth (place), because we continually take fifth, we’re tired of fifth, we don’t want to take fifth,” Stewart said.
The Hawks, who defeated Providence Hall 3-0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-7) earlier in the day to advance to the quarterfinals, said that their game plan against San Juan, who beat Juab 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-18), was to control the ball on their side of the net.
“Ball control, for sure, was our game plan. If we can control the ball on our side of the net and swing...” Stewart said. “For sure, our goal is to control the ball on our side of the net so that we can get quality swings.”
North Sanpete was led by senior Shelby Ison.
“She’s a four-year starter, she started as a freshman for us, so we want to get one (a championship), obviously because we want to get one, but we want to get one for her. She’s our leader, she’s energetic, she’s athletic, she’s all the things that you want in a teammate,” Stewart said.
North Sanpete captured the first set, but San Juan stormed back to claim the second set, at one point winning six straight points in the second set. After the second-set setback, Stewart had a message for her team.
“For us, it was serving and passing, that’s what kind of broke down in that second set was our serve receive. If they pass well, they’re successful, and that’s one of those things that broke down in that second set, and so we stressed the fact that we needed to be on top of our serve receive a little bit better and give ourselves quality swings,” Stewart said.
The Hawks rallied and won the third and fourth sets to move on to the semifinals.
In other 3A quarterfinal action, Morgan defeated Delta 3-0 (25-6, 25-15, 25-14) where they will face Richfield, who defeated Judge Memorial 3-0 (25-8, 25-12, 25-23). Union beat South Summit 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-14) to set up Saturday's match against North Sanpete.