ST. GEORGE – Digging out of any hole on the road can be tough. But digging out of a big deficit at powerhouse Snow Canyon’s “Jungle” gymnasium is impossible.
“To win here, because Snow Canyon has been so good for so long, just is incredible,” Thunder coach Jill Swaney said. “I don’t know what to say. That composure comes from the team. When they decide to forget the score and just play as a team, great things can happen.”
Having dropped two of the first three games, the Thunder looked like they in big trouble. After all, Snow Canyon is a powerhouse that just doesn’t lose at home. The Warriors have won five state championships in the last six years and rarely lose at home.
Undaunted, the Thunder went to work.
Lindsay Jones had a block, two tips and a kill in a frenetic stretch that saw Desert Hills erase a 19-14 SC lead by scoring five straight points. After a service error, the Thunder then scored six of the next seven points to capture the fourth game and force a deciding fifth.
In the final stanza, with momentum clearly on its side, Desert Hills silenced a vocal Snow Canyon student section by racing out to a 6-2 lead, Blair Bliss had a block and a kill in the stretch.
The Warriors scrambled back into the fifth game behind freshman Alexsa Parker. Her tip gave the Warriors the lead at 11-10. But that would be it for the defending region champs as Desert Hills scored the next five points to win the match. Jones had a couple of kills in the final moments and the match was won on a block by Alexa Goulding.
“We were a little nervous when we got behind,” Jones said. “But we just kept coming hard at them. We knew we had to give it our all.”
The fourth game was won on long rally in which Bliss saved a ball while falling over a chair on her own bench. Alex Garrett tipped the ball to an open spot to close out the point and the game, but Bliss was clearly the team’s inspiration after the extreme effort.
“We just decided we weren’t going to worry about the score,” Bliss said. “We just wanted to use our emotion out there and give all we had. Emotion is a big part of the game for us.”
At about halfway through the region schedule, the win doesn’t signal a changing of the guard in the region. But Desert Hills certainly made a statement with the road win.
“We knew we had to give our best to have a chance to beat them,” Bliss said. “They have been so good for so long and they still are. But this is huge for us to win on their court.”
Desert Hills remains unbeaten in region play with the win at 6-0 and is 13-3 overall. The Warriors, who were led by Parker and hard-hitting Jordan Johnston, fell to 4-1 in region and 8-3 overall.
The two teams meet again Oct. 11 at Desert Hills.
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