With two consecutive titles, the Bountiful Braves are heavy favorites heading into the 5A state volleyball championship.
Despite losing the bulk of last year’s team to graduation, the Braves navigated region play without a loss, and in fact, they haven’t lost to one 5A team this season. Their losses have come to teams from other classifications or out-of-state teams.
That doesn’t mean, however, the rest of the field won’t offer significant challenges to the top-ranked Braves. Bountiful is led by returning setter Bri Mortensen, right side Brook Pe’a and libero Holland Vande Merwe.
One of those hoping to challenge Bountiful is second-ranked Corner Canyon.
Their strength, according to their coach, isn’t in their superstars but in their cohesiveness.
“The girls play really well as a team,” said third-year head coach Melinda Wilder. “They fight for each other. They’re out there to play. We’re a very team-based program.”
Corner Canyon lost to Bountiful in last year’s 4A state title match, and that loss has fueled the Chargers, who lost about half of last year’s roster to graduation.
“The older kids have been helping to prepare those younger players for (the tournament),” she said. “And they may not have been on the court last year, but they were with us in the gym.”
The team is led by junior outside hitter Madison Brunatti, as well as its two senior returning starters — setter Seville Likes and middle Emma Mangum. The two other seniors who help the team with leadership are Heidi Penrod and Katie Beelek.
“I rely on those seniors,” she said. “They’re great leaders. They just step up and take charge of helping those kids.”
The Chargers open the tournament against Viewmont, while top-ranked Bountiful opens against Cottonwood.
Skyline will take on Region 8’s fourth seed, while Woods Cross will play Alta in the opening round.
Skyridge earned the Region 8 title with an unblemished region record. The Falcons will play Region 6’s fourth seed. They’re led by junior Kenadee Christensen, an outside/opposite hitter, senior Brinley Watkins, also an opposite/outside, and junior Kaitlyn Standifird, a setter.
The 5A championship match is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday.