ST. GEORGE — While the Desert Hills machine keeps humming in Region 9 girls volleyball action, Hurricane and Cedar are not letting the Thunder run away with the title just yet.
All three teams won by way of a sweep Tuesday night with less than three weeks remaining in the regular season.
Looking around the state, three teams are ahead of Desert Hills (16-4), according to the Deseret News rankings. Sky View (16-1) in first, Green Canyon (16-2) in second and the Orem Tigers (14-4) in third are the top three 4A volleyball teams in Utah.
Desert Hills comes in at fourth and Cedar (14-3) rounds out the top five.
Following are recaps from Tuesday night’s Region 9 volleyball matches.
Desert Hills 3, Crimson Cliffs 0
The Thunder’s deep rotation of big hitters is tough to beat for any team, but an improving Mustangs squad showed signs it’s close to being competitive with the region leaders.
“I think our team has definitely figured out how to play better as a team,” Crimson Cliffs first-year head coach Jessica Young told St. George News, adding that competition in recent out-of-state tournaments helped the Mustangs improve on offense and defense.
“Tonight what really killed us was our passing. Unfortunately we didn’t come out strong enough,” Young added. “But I’m really proud of the girls overall. They’ve done a really good job improving and staying in the game regardless of what the score is.”
Case in point, the first set against the Thunder. Down 12-5, Crimson rallied behind Peyton Palmer’s block and a kill from Samantha Harless.
Tehanie Waters served home an ace and a kill from Maia Evans later brought the Mustangs within five at 15-10.
But then Hallee Heath hit an ace for Desert Hills and Crimson’s backline had trouble receiving serves as the Thunder took the first set 25-13.
The second set followed a similar pattern when Desert Hills jumped out to a big lead behind its dominant blocking and hitting before Crimson staged a late rally.
Palmer served a late run of winners and Evans had a big block in the Mustangs rally. Lily Jones dove to save a ball and Audry Stratton hit home a kill.
“One of my favorite things about this team is we focus a lot on the mental part of the game and stay mentally tough regardless of what is happening on the scoreboard,” Young said.
“I think they’re just starting to figure out each other and how to work with each other as a team, because it’s a whole new team this year,” she added. “And I’m really proud of them for never giving up.”
Desert Hills went on to take the second set 25-20 and completed the sweep with a 25-15 win in the third set.
Waters led the Mustangs with eight kills, two aces and seven digs. Crimson slipped to 7-17 overall including 3-6 in Region 9 after the loss.
“It’s the small things for us right now,” Young said. “Our passing tonight was an issue, so we just need to focus back on the passing, serve receive, being smarter with our serves. We have a great, tough serve. We just have to be a little smarter about what we’re doing with the ball.”
Desert Hills won its 10th consecutive match and remained unbeaten in Region 9 at 8-0 with the win.
Hurricane 3, Pine View 0
The Tigers continued their strong season with a 25-15, 25-15, 25-13 clean sweep at Pine View.
Match statistics were unavailable.
Hurricane (13-5) improved to 5-2 in Region 9 play and sits at third in the standings after the win.
Meanwhile, Pine View (0-16) continued to struggle and is looking for its first win in the region.
Cedar 3, Dixie 0
At Cedar, the Reds swept the Dixie Flyers, 25-14, 25-16, 25-19.
Emery Harrison led the way with 17 kills for Cedar, while Bird Allen set up 28 assists and had six kills.
The first set was tied 4-4 early on, but Cedar pulled ahead 16-7 and maintained a similar lead the rest of the way.
In the second set, the Reds jumped out to a 10-2 lead and were up by as much as 18-5 before Dixie rallied a bit.
The third set ended up being the closest, with Cedar holding a slim 11-10 lead before extending its cushion to six.
Dixie closed the gap to 21-19 late in the game, but following an out-of-bounds serve, Cedar libero Nyah Barnes served the last three points to clinch the set win and the match.
With the win, the Reds improved to 14-3 overall, 7-1 in Region 9 play. Cedar remains in second place.
“We’re just focusing on executing any kind of ball we can get,” Cedar head coach Nicole Anglin said afterward. “I think we did well with that.”
Dixie fell to 4-12 overall and is 1-7 in the Region 9 standings after the setback.
– written by Jeff Richards
Region 9 girls volleyball matches, Thursday, Sept. 28:
- Dixie at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
- Pine View at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
- Crimson Cliffs at Cedar, 7 p.m.
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