Pine View upsets top-seeded Orem to win inaugural 4A boys volleyball state title

Pine View outside hitter Nathan Mitchell goes up to spike the ball against Provo in the second round of the 4A boys volleyball state tournament, Orem, Utah, May 10, 2024 | Photo by Brent Rowe, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Pine View Panthers won the 4A state boys volleyball championship on Saturday.

Pine View vs. Provo, 4A boys volleyball state tournament, Orem, Utah, May 10, 2024 | Photo by Brent Rowe, St. George News

Playing at Utah Valley University in Orem, the No. 3 seeded Panthers defeated Provo and Layton Christian on Friday to advance to Saturday’s semifinals, where they came from behind to defeat the Logan Grizzlies, the No. 2 seed, 3-2.

Then, in the championship match at the end of the night, Pine View came from two sets down to upset No. 1 seed Orem, 3-2.

“We had to go through three outstanding teams to get this state championship, for sure,” Pine View coach Josh Warner told St. George News.

In the fifth and deciding set against Orem, the Panthers built an early advantage, leading by a 12-7 margin at one point before Orem rallied to score five points in a row to tie the game.

“And then we just traded points the rest of the way until the final point,” Warner said. “And man, it was just an outstanding play by a very aggressive player on our team, Spencer Blackmore. He went up and went for the glory, that’s for sure. Because the guy on the other side of the net was bigger, yet he went up and adjusted with him and snuck it through the guy’s hands, basically into the low seam and it got just on their side and the rest is history, as they say.”

Pine View’s victory capped off a highly successful season in the newly sanctioned sport’s inaugural year in Utah. The Panthers finished with an overall record of 25-5, including 11-1 in Region 9 play; Pine View shared the region title with Crimson Cliffs.

In Saturday night’s title match against Orem, Blackmore finished with a team-high 17 kills, while fellow outside hitter Kody Campbell added 11 kills. Both players are seniors and co-captains of the team. The Panther’s third captain, junior setter Isaiah Warner, contributed 44 assists in Pine View’s 25-22, 21-25, 16-25, 25-21, 17-15 victory in the title game.

Pine View vs. Provo, 4A boys volleyball state tournament, Orem, Utah, May 10, 2024 | Photo by Brent Rowe, St. George News

“We were able to dig so deep,” said coach Josh Warner, who is also Isaiah’s father. “Honestly, it was crazy how good that Orem team is. They’ve been the favorites all year long. They are head and shoulders, the most talented team in the 4A classification.”

“For our young men to figure out how to stay confident and just stay good teammates and build each other up and not quit or get freaked out, was really important for us,” Warner added. “It just doesn’t happen that often, you know? When you get down to the better team, it’s just a lot easier to panic and just be worried.”

Coach Warner noted although Blackmore had been the team’s primary setter during the regular season, he moved into the outside hitter position for the playoffs.

“We didn’t settle on that lineup that we played at the state tournament until about two weeks ago,” he said. “We were running a completely different lineup, different systems, just tinkering and toying with it, seeing what was best.”

Ultimately, the coach said they decided to shift Isaiah Warner into the setter role.

“Isaiah went in having only been our primary setter for two weeks, even less than that to be honest,” coach Warner added. “So for him to be able to calm himself down and rise to the occasion was great, because it allowed Spencer to move from our No. 1 setter to outside hitter, and Spencer did a great job in the positional switch as well.”

In addition to his 44 assists against Orem, Isaiah Warner had also amassed 46 assists against Logan, after recording 67 during Friday’s two matches, giving him 157 assists over the weekend’s four contests.

Crimson Cliffs vs. Payson, 4A boys volleyball state tournament, Orem, Utah, May 10, 2024 | Photo courtesy of Steve Hall, St. George News

Pine View dropped the first and third sets against Logan before coming back to win, 17-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 15-11.

“Logan had a really good outside hitter, and a really good middle,” coach Warner said. “They were kind of small in all the other positions but they didn’t make mistakes. They extended rallies. They capitalized on our mistakes. I was a little nervous at times, because they were so good in ball control, defense and extending rallies.”

Warner said although the team is losing seven seniors to graduation, four of whom were starters, he’s hoping the Panthers will be competitive again next year.

“Yeah, we’re excited,” he added, mentioning several underclassmen who are expected to contribute next year, just as they had done this spring.

“I’ll get my setter back in Isaiah, and I’ll get junior Nathan Mitchell back who’s played some outside, middle and opposite,” Warner said, adding, “We’ll get Brock Swensen back, who’s our sophomore libero, but we’ll have to transition him into probably a hitting position for next year.”

Also representing Region 9 over the weekend at the state tournament at UVU were Crimson Cliffs, Desert Hills and Hurricane. Brief recaps of their tournament performances are as follows:

  • No. 5 seed Crimson Cliffs was upset in the second round by No. 12 Payson, with the Lions winning 3-1 (21-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-20). Crimson Cliffs then lost its consolation game to No. 4 Ridgeline, 2-1.
  • No. 18 Desert Hills lost its second-round match to No. 2 Logan, 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-20, 25-12). The Thunder then fell to No. 10 Murray in the consolation bracket, 2-1.
  • No. 16 Hurricane lost in the second round to No. 1 Orem, which won 3-0 (25-8, 25-11, 25-19). Then, in the consolation bracket, Hurricane defeated No. 9 Jordan 2-0 before falling to No. 4 Ridgeline, 2-0.

To see the full tournament bracket on MaxPreps, click here.

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