ST. GEORGE — The Desert Hills High School volleyball team came up just short of its ultimate goal Friday night when the Thunder were swept by Ridgeline in the 4A state championship match.
The Riverhawks beat Desert Hills 25-12, 26-24 and 25-18 to win Ridgeline’s first state title.
“They were No. 1 in RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) for a reason,” Desert Hills coach Craig Allred said by phone after the match. “They were better than us. We didn’t play our best match for sure, but that is to their credit. They’re a very good team.”
Desert Hills was able to establish leads in all three sets before Ridgeline came back each time to complete the sweep.
“We went into it feeling pretty confident,” Allred said. “We went in focusing on what we wanted to do well. We served tough and put ourselves in a position to win. We had a great chance to win that second set, but again credit to Ridgeline, they were really good.”
Ridgeline had a pair of junior standouts, Nia Damuni and Mira Smullin, that did almost all of the damage against the Thunder. Smullin’s powerful hitting on the outside accounted for 12 kills.
Damuni did everything, from dishing out every single one of Ridgeline’s 39 assists to serving 15 aces and leading the team in blocks with three.
Desert Hills finished its outstanding season as Region 10 champion with an 11-1 record. Overall the Thunder posted a 20-10 record.
Allred noted that the RPI system ended up proving out, as the top four seeds at the state tournament (Ridgeline, Desert Hills, Crimson Cliffs, Sky View) finished in that order exactly, one through four.
“The RPI kind of rang true,” Allred said.
Despite the disappointing finish, Allred said the Thunder’s outstanding season was in no way diminished.
“I’m super proud of our girls and how hard they fought,” Allred said. “It’s a great accomplishment to make it to the championship game and put themselves in a position to win it. Unfortunately we just ran into a buzzsaw.”
Desert Hills will lose five top performers to graduation in Sa’de Turlington, Mckayla Allred, Maleia Thurber, Julia Jacobsen and Brooke Haguewood, but Allred said they helped lay a foundation for success at the school.
“We have a lot of hard workers. The girls showed that this year, and it will be the same next year,” Allred said. “All of our seniors were good contributors, but we’ve got a great group of juniors and sophomores who will fight to win the chance to do it again. The kids are excited for their opportunity.”
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