I can’t say enough about the girls having to fight through missing (Rasmussen), (having) to fill new roles, and showing maturity I didn’t know they had until this year. —Millard volleyball coach Delise Fullmer, on losing Megan Rasmussen
OREM – Before the 2017 season started, Millard volleyball coach Delise Fullmer knew her team was talented.
What she didn’t know was how resilient they were.
The team and community was tested in unexpected ways when senior Megan Rasmussen was severely injured in a car accident just before the season began.
“She’s a miracle to be alive,” Fullmer said after the Eagles swept Waterford 25-18, 25-20, 25-16 in the second round of the 2A state tournament. “She was one of our leaders, a starting outside. The seniors who were left stepped up in all new ways.”
She said she thought “the bottom just fell out of our season” when Rasmussen was injured.
“To end up No. 2 in our region, it’s a tough region,” she said. “It’s no joke down there. And I can’t say enough about the girls having to fight through missing (Rasmussen), (having) to fill new roles, and showing maturity I didn’t know they had until this year.”
The team was led by setter Candace Cannon, who ran an effective and efficient offense with 24 assists, and senior middle hitter Ayla Lunt, who finished with 19 kills and had stretches of dominance at the net.
“Candace is refocused and setting out of her mind right now,” Fullmer said. “Ayla is a leader in every way. She’s seeing the court a lot better. She’s peaking at the right time. She’s just a lot of fun, honestly.”
The Eagles’ defensive effort was led by sophomore outside hitter Maddison Owen, who picked up 11 digs.
“She’s become a defensive force,” Fullmer said of Owen. “She can always put the ball down, but her digs, she’s just a great all-around player. She contributes in every way.”
Fullmer said she took her team to a variety of tournaments, including two loaded with teams from different classifications, to prepare them for this weekend’s tournament.
“I wanted to give my girls an opportunity to see volleyball at a different speed,” she said. “The way different teams and regions play, I just wanted them to see that volleyball isn’t just played one way.”
She said the team started a bit slow in both matches on Friday, but ended up sweeping both opponents.
“We were really anxious to get out here and play, and then, I think we just tried a little too hard,” she said. “They really came together in the end.”
The Eagles will play top-ranked North Summit in the 2A semifinals Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The Braves defeated St. Joseph’s in the quarterfinal 25-20, 25-12, 25-10.
In the other bracket, second-ranked Enterprise/Rowland Hall will play fifth-ranked Duchesne/Kanab at 11 a.m. Saturday. The championship match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday at UVU’s UCCU Center.