4A volleyball playoffs recap: Snow Canyon knocks off Desert Hills; Dixie swept

Snow Canyon senior libero Jael Wilde hits the ball against Desert Hills in the first round of the 2020 4A UHSAA volleyball tournament on Oct. 27 at the Sevier Valley Center. Photo by David Larson

ST. GEORGE— Snow Canyon pulled off a come-from-behind win to knock off the Region 9 regular season champion Desert Hills in five sets in the quarterfinals of the Utah High School Activities Association 4A state volleyball tournament at the Sevier Valley Center on Tuesday.

The No. 6 seed Warriors outscored the No. 3 Thunder 40-24 in the final two sets, including 14 straight points to reach match point in the fifth set. The Warriors overcame a 2-1 Desert Hills lead after the third game and ended with an emphatic victory, as Snow Canyon advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2017.

”It was kind of a roller coaster through the match,” Snow Canyon head coach Markay Thorkelson said. “That’s what we would expect against Desert Hills. They’ve got a great team and a great program.” 

Snow Canyon jumped out to an early lead with a 25-20 win in the first set, before Desert Hills took the next two by scores of 25-19 and 25-20. 

With their back against the wall, the Warriors jumped out to a 19-10 lead and an eventual 25-17 win in set four. In the decisive set, Snow Canyon yielded first point by failing to get the ball over the net after a long volley. But after retrieving possession on the next play, they rattled off 14 straight points from services by senior Jenna Thorkelson, including several of her six aces on the day.

Snow Canyon vs. Desert Hills, 4A state volleyball quarterfinals, Richfield, Utah, Oct. 27, 2020 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

The Thunder rallied back to score the next six points on match point, but Snow Canyon senior outside hitter Katie Langford slammed the door with a patented kill into the backcourt, securing the victory. It was the Utah State University commit’s 20th kill of the match, after leading Region 9 and ranking fourth in all of Utah with 442 on the season.

“We rely heavily on her for her offensive power,” coach Thorkelson said of Langford. “She’s huge. When she’s there and she’s swinging hard things just fall into place for us.”

With the loss, the Thunder failed to advance out of the quarterfinals after coming within two sets of winning the state title in 2019. 

Desert Hills had won its previous two meetings against Snow Canyon, beating the Warriors 3-2 at Snow Canyon on Sept. 1 and sweeping them at Desert Hills on Sept. 24. The playoff loss to Snow Canyon was only the Thunder’s second to a Region 9 foe all season.

“It was two really good teams going at it,” Desert Hills head coach Craig Allred said. “We were expecting a five-set battle. I don’t know if anything necessarily went wrong on our end; we just battled.”

Desert Hills swept No. 2 Uintah 25-22, 25-16 and 25-14 in their consolation match later in the day and will play for fifth place Wednesday afternoon.

Snow Canyon takes on No. 7 Ridgeline in the semifinals Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Richfield for a shot at the state title later in the day. Click here to see full bracket.

Sky View 3, Dixie 0

In the other semifinal match involving a Region 9 team, the No. 9 Dixie Flyers fell in three sets Tuesday evening to the top-seed Sky View Bobcats at Richfield, 25-20, 25-19 and 25-22. 

Despite being competitive the entire match, Dixie failed to pull out a set win against the tournament’s top seed. The Flyers worked the first match to a 15-15 tie, then the second to a 13-13 tie and finally the third set to a 20-20 tie with their backs against the wall, eventually falling behind in each set.

The Flyers end their season and move to the consolation bracket after a 16-12 campaign.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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