Miner Volleyball Sweeps Mountain Ridge - Sets Rematch With Salem Hills
Park City girl’s volleyball head coach Matt Carlson knows he has a team that has the talent to win the UHSAA Class 5A state championship. But his main issue has been getting his girls to play at the level he knows they’re capable of.
During Wednesday night’s Sweet-16 matchup in the state playoffs against No. 11 Mountain Ridge, Carlson finally saw his team reach that level. The Miners took down a feisty Sentinels squad 3-0 (25-23, 25-11, 25-19) in what was their last home match of the season.
“That’s more like it... That’s how good we can be when we are clicking and playing well,” an ecstatic Carlson said postgame. “The way we played in the second and third sets was beautiful. But I was really impressed with how we handled them coming out fired up in the first set...They were ready to play and it showed, but we were able to pull it out and it settled us down.”
As Carlson said, Mountain Ridge came out on fire in the first set, aided by a crowded student section and its fans despite the hour-long drive for a midweek game. The Miners found themselves trailing 12-10, prompting Carlson to call a timeout, his first of the postseason. The timing proved ideal as Park City settled down and embraced the rowdy crowd, before pulling out the opening set.
“We aren’t used to playing in games with a lot of fans with everything that’s been going on, so I definitely think that rattled us in the beginning,” senior middle Hayden Goodman said. “Once we sort of embraced the crowd though, we were able to calm down and focus on just us. And then the way we played in the second and third sets, that’s what we can do.”
The second set was a thing of beauty for the Miners.
They jumped out to a huge lead and never looked back as setters Maya Lopansri and Sydney Ormiston did a phenomenal job of spreading the ball around to their bevy of hitters. Also, twins Cassie and Mattie Prior, Brookelynn Sapp and Goodman dominated the nets with their height and athleticism, consistently stopping the Sentinels attack with their blocking.
Leading 2-0, Carlson was extremely impressed with how his team closed out Mountain Ridge. Rather than letting them hang around, his team put the screws to the Sentinels and ended it with an Ormiston-to-Goodman kill.
“That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a match... I’m still excited and pumped up after that,” Goodman said postgame. “The energy that we were able to bring from our bench and each other was insane. All we need is each other and we have that.”
Now Park City can look ahead to the match it had circled when the brackets were announced last week. The Miners will travel south to face Region 8 rival No. 3 Salem Hills on Thursday night, with first serve at 6 p.m.
There is quite a bit of history between these two teams as Park City has already taken out the Skyhawks twice this season, winning at home and at Salem Hills. But the Skyhawks were the team that eliminated the Miners in the quarterfinals of last season’s state tournament, a match Carlson and his team haven’t forgotten about.
“When the brackets were announced, this was the game we saw. We knew that if we took care of our business and they took care of theirs it would come down to this,” Carlson said. “This is what we wanted, and I really think, especially after how we ended tonight, that we are ready. It’s a huge confidence boost and I’m excited.”