SMITHFIELD — Thursday night’s showdown between the top two volleyball teams in Region 11 turned into a barnburner.
In fact, it was a shame someone had to come out on the losing end. Momentum swings were a constant and thrilling plays by both sides kept fans on the edge of their seats. The five-set thriller lasted more than two hours.
Sky View made just a few more plays at the end and handed Ridgeline its first league loss of the season, 35-37, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 17-15.
“They (Riverhawks) are a good team,” Bobcat head coach Sheila Sorensen said. “This match was so fun. The atmosphere was really good tonight. ... It’s fun to see my team competing and knowing how good they can be. They believe it now. It’s fun to see. I’m just super proud of this team.”
Had the Riverhawks (19-6, 7-1 region) won, they would have locked up the region title. Now the Bobcats (12-8, 6-2) are within striking distance with two matches left in the regular season. Sky View has won five straight.
“It was fun match,” Ridgeline head coach Jaicee Roden said. “... I don’t even know if the girls are aware that the region championship is right there. We just play it one set at time, one ball at a time. That’s what keeps us in good situations and we are going to continue to do that.”
In other region matches Thursday, Mountain Crest ended a four-match skid with a 25-10, 25-10, 25-18 win against Logan. Green Canyon stayed in contention for a piece of the league title with a four-set win over Bear River, 25-19, 28-26, 22-25, 25-13.
With both teams taking a pair of sets, it came down to who could get to 15 first. Check that. Who could get to 17 first.
On two occasions Ridgeline built three-point leads. Five times Sky View knotted the score, but couldn’t seem to be able to get in front.
Kills by Ella Bingham and Ryen Smith gave the hosts their first lead of the fifth, 14-13. However, the Riverhawks promptly scored the next two points off a kill by Maggie Larsen and an ace by Livvy Davies.
It was just that kind of a match.
Melanie Hiatt evened it up again with a kill, then joined forces with Hannah Radford for a block. After a long rally, Hiatt recorded her match-high 23rd kill to end the set and match, sending the Bobcats into a loud celebration.
“This is a pretty big win,” SV senior Abigail Doxey said. “This was really awesome. Ridgeline played so good. It was such a fun game. This one was sweet because they beat us the first time around.”
The Riverhawks did win the first meeting in straight sets. But the Bobcats evened the season series with Thursday’s thriller.
“This win was huge for us,” SV senior Aezley Young said. “The first time we played Ridgeline, we didn’t show up. We’ve worked so hard to get here.”
The loss ended an eight-match winning streak by the Riverhawks.
“It was a good job by both sides,” Roden said. “It was exciting. You hope it ends in your favor. Both teams showed mental toughness tonight.”
Doxey and Radford both joined Hiatt in double-digit kills with 14 and 11, respectively. Radford hit .348.
Doxey also led in aces with three and digs with 29. Bingham, who had six kills, had a monster night at the net with 10 blocks, followed by Smith with six and Hiatt with five. Hiatt also had 24 digs and was joined in double digits by Kelsey Spackman (14) and Kaitlynn May (11). Smith and Brynnlee Hart had 24 and 22 assists, respectively.
“We are really trying to be more of a team on and off the court,” May said. “We came together and played for each other.”
The Bobcats served at 92 percent Thursday night.
The Riverhawks were paced by Larsen and Gracee Putnam with 10 kills each, while Mira Smullin had nine, while coming up with four blocks and four aces. Davies passed at 1.9, had a match-best 30 digs and five aces. Nia Damuni had 13 digs.
Ridgeline also saw the return of setter Brinlie Crosbie, who saw limited action after coming back from injury.
“She is a little raw right now, but she is really smart,” Roden said. “She runs a great offense. All of the girls are doing a nice job, but we needed somebody to come light a match, so the girls could catch fire.”
Senior Night couldn’t have gotten off to a wilder start as the first set lasted nearly the length of two. Sky View enjoyed a five-point advantage early on. Ridgeline took a two-point lead late. Then it was just back and forth.
There were 20 ties and eight lead changes in the opening set. There were some wild points as well, where one team would think a point was over and the other would some how get the ball back over the net. The wildest may have been when May was able to get the ball over with a quick thinking poke of her foot.
“Everyone on this team loves each other and wanted to win for each other and not ourselves,” May said. “I love my team.”
Kills by Danica David and Smullin brought the first set to a close and seemingly pumped up the Riverhawks as they jumped out to a 7-1 lead to start the second.
“I told the team not to let the first set deflate and define you,” Sorensen said. “Just go out and be aggressive. We just took a team that has been winning a ton to 37-35. We just wanted to keep pushing.”
Sky View used its own 7-1 run to get back in the second. Then the Bobcats put together a stretch of 9-2 to take the lead and hold on to even the match.
“Playing a set like the first gives you momentum because you are supposed to end at 25 and it was 37,” Doxey said. “The fact we went so long, we felt we could do it the next time. It was an energy boost.”
A hotly contested third set — eight ties and four lead changes — tilted toward the Riverhawks when they used a 6-1 run to finish it off. Ava Wilcox had two kills.
The Bobcats never trailed in the fourth and used a 6-0 run to build a 22-13 lead. The Riverhawks did score five unanswered to make it a little more interesting. But the match went to a deciding fifth.
“Our focus has become so strong,” Young said. “The hard work is paying off. And we are doing a better job of focusing on one point at a time. We are playing for each other. It’s all about family and togetherness.”
“We just believe in each other,” SV senior Katie Low said. “We rely on each other so much. We play together as a family. As long as we work together, we get the job done.
OTHER REGION MATCHES
At Hyrum, the Mustangs (15-11, 4-4) ended a four-match skid with the victory against the Grizzlies (2-24, 0-8). It was a welcome sight for head coach Kindra Anderson, who has been encouraging her girls to believe in themselves.
“It was a good game to get back on track and playing together as a team,” Anderson said. “I’m so proud of all of my players, especially my seniors in their last home match. They all played amazing and had a lot of fun.”
Mountain Crest was led in the hitting department by Kiera Crosbie, Ella Douglass and Kaytlin Bywater with nine, eight and seven kills, respectively. Douglass hit .438, while Bywater hit .375.
Ashley Welker and Douglass led the team in blocks with four and three, respectively. Phoebe Starnes led in digs with six, as well as tied Kylee Atkinson with three aces each. Atkinson had 29 assists and five digs.
“Ella and Kaytlin both did great offensively, and it was a lot of fun seeing Ashley be aggressive at the net,” Anderson said. “Kylee did a great job running our offense and keeps improving every game.”
At Garland, the Wolves (12-8, 5-3) remained in third place after a tough battle with the Bears (4-16, 2-6).
“Sometimes wins aren’t pretty, but we’ll take it,” GC head coach Maddie Larsen said. “We were higher in errors than we have been in a while, but I was proud of our girls for pushing through when things weren’t clicking. The fourth set we really cleaned some things up and were able to play more consistent volleyball.”
Alli Anthon and Kaylee Coats each recorded 10 kills for the Wolves, while Paige Spackman had eight finishers and hit .294. Coats and Anthon hit .294 and .269, respectively.
Coats helped the Wolves in several areas, also coming up with seven digs and handing out 17 assists. Eden Faux led the team with 17 digs. Abby Blau had two aces, 16 assists and 11 digs.