Before the volleyball season begins, the players run “PC Hill” and then discuss what it is they want from the season.
This year, someone asked a question.
“What is more important than winning state?” recalled head coach Matt Carlson. “The response was unified, ‘To be known at Park City as the exemplary sport.’ Meaning, we set the example to all of the other programs about how to conduct ourselves on and off the court.”
With their focus on being their best — whether that’s on the court or in the classroom — Park City hasn’t worried about defending last year’s 4A title. Instead, they’re focused on being the best team they can be in 2018.
“The girls recognize that the only control they have is being in the present and giving one’s best effort — mentally, physically and emotionally. That’s the goal of each practice and each match.”
The Miners are led by seven returning starters, including 4A MVP Emily Smith, who has committed to play for the University of Utah. Outside hitter Grace Wiczek, Lauren Carr, Grace Stover, Dalton Daley, Jaynie Glasmann and Izzy Sandston return and have helped Park City to an impressive season.
The second-ranked Miners will open against Orem, a solid fourth-seed.
“The field is very deep,” Carlson said, pointing out Region 9 powers Snow Canyon and Desert Hills, Region 10’s Lehi, Salem Hills and Spanish Fork, as well as Juan Diego and Orem.
“Sky View is obviously one of the favorites,” Carlson said of the team Park City beat in last year’s final. “They beat Lehi in the regular season and are a perennial program.”
Green Canyon and Ridgeline emerge from Sky View’s region (12) battle all better and tougher for having played each other.
Top-ranked Sky View will play Cedar in the first round, which begins on Wednesday morning. No. 1 seed from Region 9 Snow Canyon will open with Mtn. Crest, while No. 2 seed Desert Hills will play one of the first round’s best matches against Region 12 seed Green Canyon.
Region 10’s top seed, Lehi, will play Bonneville, while Ridgeline opens with Dixie.
The 3A championship is Morgan’s to lose. The Trojans looked poised to defend last year’s title with relative ease, as they boast a 19-5 record, but there are some tough challengers.
Morgan will face Richfield in the tournament’s first round on Wednesday.
Second-ranked San Juan will play Providence Hall, while third-ranked North Sanpete faces Maeser Prep on Wednesday.
Fourth-ranked Union will take on Grand High School in the first round, and fifth-ranked South Summit squares off against Juab.
Delta may not be ranked, but the second-seed from Region 14 should be in the mix, as well.
The championship match is scheduled for Thursday at 8 p.m. at UVU’s UCCU Center.
Sometimes defending a title is tougher than winning a championship.
But for the Panguitch volleyball team, defending the title they won in 2017 should be easier for two reasons — experience and depth.
“The advantage I feel we have is that we return eight girls that played in the state championship last year,” said Panguitch head coach Troy Norris. “Three of our four seniors have started since they were sophomores.”
The Bobcats don’t just have players who have experience, they have players who are champions in multiple sports.
The Bobcats are led by seniors Kapri Orton, who, at 5-foot-6, is the state 1A record holder in the high jump, Brittney Henrie, the team’s libero, and McCall Tebbs, one of the Bobcats’ outside hitters.
Last year’s MVP Karlee Eyre is back after knee surgery and, while she started slow, she’s playing well, hitting .441 percent now as the team approaches this week’s 1A state tournament, which begins Friday morning with the championship scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
The team’s offense is powered by junior hitters Taylia Norris and Kiesa Miller. Unlike many smaller school teams, the Bobcats have a versatile offense.
“The thing we do better than any other team in 1A is we are able to set all three positions very well, and we have six great hitters,” Norris said. “So it’s very hard for opposing teams to know where we are going.”
Panguitch opens play with Region 19’s No. 4 team, while second-ranked Monticello will face Escalante in the first round. Third-ranked Valley will start the playoffs with Tintic, and fourth-ranked ICS and Piute are still waiting to find out who they play on Friday.
Last year’s runner-up and perennial power, Rich, enters the tournament a No. 2 seed and will be in the bracket opposite Panguitch, facing a team from Region 19 in the first round.
2A TOURNAMENTComment on this story
The 2A tournament looks a lot like the 1A tournament in that last year’s champion, North Summit, appears to be the heavy favorite. The Braves are ranked No. 1 and have an impressive 20-6 record, with all of those losses coming to programs from larger classifications.
Second-ranked Enterprise opens with Region 17’s American Preparatory Academy, while third-ranked Kanab takes on Merit Preparatory Academy in Friday’s opening round.
Fourth-ranked Duchesne will have a tough draw in Millard, while fifth-ranked Waterford will take on Region 16’s fifth seed Layton Christian Academy.
The 2A championship match is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday.