3A State Volleyball: Thunder the favorite heading into semis

Morgan won the 3A State Volleyball Tournament last year, Orem, Utah, Oct. 29, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

OREM – The primary result that came from the first day of action at the Utah 3A Volleyball Tournament is that Morgan is not invincible. Last year, the Lady Trojans swept through the tournament without losing a single set and demolished a very good Snow Canyon team in the state finals.

This year portends to be a different story. If the play from day one is a presage, then one could conclude that the winner of the Park City-Desert Hills semifinal has the edge. The Lady Miners swept both of their first-day opponents, but had a lighter path than the Thunder, who dismantled a very good Juan Diego team.

Don’t count Morgan out. Just because they are not “invincible” does not mean they will lose. They will have the easiest semifinal. Will that be beneficial for them, or work against them? Here are the predictions for Thursday’s second day at State:

Semifinals

Park City v. Desert Hills

The two teams that have played outstanding up to this point. Park City beat Snow Canyon, then Ridgeline. Desert Hills beat Tooele, then Juan Diego. Based purely on strength of schedule so far in tournament . . . Pick: Desert Hills

Morgan v. Union

Morgan beat Canyon View, then beat Dixie. Union beat Pine View, then beat North Sanpete. Union is playing inspired. But you have to pick Morgan based on entirety of year performance. Pick: Morgan

One Loss Bracket

Richfield v. Juab

The Lady Wildcats lost to Juan Diego, then beat Tooele. Juab lost to Ridgeline then beat Snow Canyon. Pick: Richfield

Pine View v. Stansbury

Pine View lost a tough match to Union, then beat Logan. Stansbury lost to Dixie then beat Canyon View. Pick: Pine View

Sixth Place Match: Richfield v. Pine View

The Lady Panthers expected to be in the semifinals, but will have to settle for sixth. Pick: Pine View

Juan Diego v. Ridgeline

On paper this is a mismatch. Juan Diego beat Richfield then lost to Desert Hills. Ridgeline beat Juab then lost to Park City. Pick: Juan Diego

North Sanpete v. Dixie

North Sanpete beat Logan, then lost to Union. Dixie beat Stansbury then lost to Morgan. The mere fact that Dixie took a set from Morgan and led early in the deciding fourth set has me leaning in its direction. This will be the best match in the one-loss bracket. Pick: Dixie

Fifth-place match: Dixie v. Juan Diego

This will be a close match. Dixie will have two tough matches to get the fifth-place title. Pick: Dixie

Third-place match: Park City v. Union

Park City’s play on day one has made believers of many. Union has upsets of its own on the first day. Still, watching them, there was not much comparison for me. Pick: Park City

CHAMPIONSHIP: Desert Hills v. Morgan

Morgan returns to the championship. Desert Hills was not here last year, but they were close. The Lady Thunder finished third, after losing their semifinal to the Lady Trojans. On pure talent, Desert Hills has the edge with the twin towers Charity Bradley and Rachel Winters. What is special about these two is not only their attack, but they also lead the team in other areas like service and defense. Morgan is good from top to bottom. Not too many weaknesses. It is still going to be Desert Hills’ match to lose. Pick: Desert Hills

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