MILLVILLE — For the first time in school history, the Riverhawks are region champions in the sport of volleyball.
Ridgeline bounced back from a rough start to top Region 11 rival Mountain Crest in four sets Tuesday night, 14-25, 25-14, 25-19, 25-17. There is still a match left to play in league action, but the Riverhawks have at least a share of the title.
“It feels pretty good to be region champs after all of our hard work before and after school,” Ridgeline middle blocker Mira Smullin said. “But we still have another region game. We are going to work hard and be ready for that.”
In other region action Tuesday night, Sky View secured at least second place with a four-set win against Green Canyon, 25-22, 25-27, 25-23, 25-22. The Bobcats can still tie the Riverhawks for first. Logan is still in search of its first region victory after a three-set loss to Bear River, 25-17, 25-17, 25-13.
With Addy Swanton in attendance, the Riverhawks (20-6, 8-1 region) played inspired from the second set on. Swanton is a member of the team who is battling cancer and has missed most of the season.
Ridgeline was able to forget about the opening set and swing the momentum in its favor. The insertion of sophomore Julia Howe seemed to spark the hosts.
“We had a tough loss last Thursday and the girls came back and did a good job battling in practices,” Ridgeline head coach Jaicee Roden said. “After that first set we figured some things out and made some impactful changes. The girls did an excellent job coming in when their number was called. The whole team collectively did a nice job supporting the team and playing for the team, rather than individuals.
“... Julia did come in and play really well and scored points. She did what we exactly needed her to do. She came in and was an impact player. We need that at times, and tonight that was her.”
Howe had five of her eight kills in the second set. Howe hit .412 for the match and recorded four blocks and served up two aces.
Ridgeline finished the match with a 6-0 run to end the fourth set. Two aces by Livvey Davies — she had three on the night — fueled the hosts. Smullin and Howe teammed up for a block, and Smullin ended the match with her final kill of the night.
“This win is great, but we still have more work to do,” said Smullin, who led the Riverhawks with 11 kills and six blocks while hitting .318. “... There are bigger things we want to do.”
Then almost as a surprise, the Riverhawks were awarded the region trophy.
“It’s exciting to be region champs,” Roden said. “It’s an outcome we have achieved with the goals we set out with, playing one point at a time, one set at a time, one match at a time.”
While Roden preaches team play and rarely singles out players, setter Nia Damuni also drew some praise, along with Howe. Damuni had five blocks and set up the Riverhawk hitters all match long.
“Nia is extremely athletic,” Roden said. “We are working on the thought process of running an offense. She continues to show improvements.”
The Mustangs (15-12, 4-5) will take some time off before the final regular season match of the season next week.
“My girls need a break,” MC head coach Kindra Anderson said. “We need a break right now, so this will be good to have a week before we play again.”
The Mustangs seemingly got off to a good start after falling behind 3-0 to start the opening set, giving up all three points on hitting errors. Mountain Crest got dialed in and was sparked by a block by Danica Nebeker. A pair of kills by Kiera Crosbie and two aces from Kaytlin Bywater and the visitors reeled off six unanswered points.
“That first set was good,” Anderson said. “I’m super proud of them for that. We never really gave up, we just started making a few more errors. We struggled getting around their block at times.”
Adding runs of 8-1 and 4-0, the Mustangs builts a 19-10 lead. They scored the final three points of the set — two off aces by Ella Douglass — to take the first set. Mountain Crest had nine aces from five different players in the first set, three from Douglass.
“We started serving out, and that made a huge difference for us,” Anderson said. “Everybody went after it serving. It wasn’t just one person.”
But the tables were turned in the second set. With the Mustangs taking the early lead, the Riverhawks went on a 8-1 surge, followed by a 6-0 run. Howe had four of her kills during those runs. Ridgeline never trailed in the second set.
“We got the jitters out (in the first set),” Smullin said. “We have each other’s back and I think we have good team chemistry. We play to win.”
Ridgeline used a 4-0 run early in the third set to get in front. The Riverhawks stayed there.
The fourth set was the closet until the final push by Ridgeline. There were nine ties and six lead changes.
The Mustangs were led by Crosbie with nine kills and three aces. Bywater finished with seven kills and two aces. Nebeker had four blocks, while Douglass had four kills, two blocks and three aces. Ashley Welker drew praise for her five kills and two aces.
“This was a good game for us,” Anderson said. “Ridgeline is good. We fought. Hopefully next time we can fight and win. I’m really proud of Ashley. She had a fantastic night tonight. Across the board we did a good job defensively.”
OTHER REGION MATCHES
In a battle for second in the region at North Logan, it was Sky View coming out on top in four tightly contested sets. Neither team won by more than three, and the second set went to extra points.
“I’m excited to see my team play together and to fight in close battles,” SV head coach Sheila Sorensen said. “They are doing a good job at resetting and focusing on the next play.”
The Bobcats (17-11, 7-2) were coming off a thrilling five-set win against Ridgeline last Thursday. With the win, Sky View will finish at least in second but can tie for first, while the Wolves (13-12, 5-4) are currently in third.
“Tonight was a battle,” GC head coach Maddie Larsen said. “It’s always nice to come out on the other side of close sets like those, but overall I was very proud of my girls. They’re continuing to work hard and improve.”
Sky View’s Hannah Radford, who had six kills and was hitting .667, went down with an ankle injury in the second set. Koria Black came on and had five blocks. Radford’s status is unknown for next week.
The Bobcats were led once again by Melanie Hiatt with 19 kills, 13 digs, two aces and three blocks. Ella Bingham added eight kills and three blocks. Abigail Doxey and Aezley Young each had seven kills, while Young hit .778 and had five blocks. Doxey had a team-best 17 digs. Brynnlee Hart had three aces, 18 assists and eight digs, while Ryen Smith had 22 assists, five kills and five digs. Kelsey Spackman came up with 10 digs.
The Wolves were led by Eden Faux with 10 kills, 19 digs and three aces, Also contributing 10 kills were Ali Anthon and Paige Spackman, who hit .350. Adi Falslev had nine kills and 10 digs. Abby Blau served up five aces, had 17 assists and 10 digs. Kaylee Coats and Lydia Echols each had 10 digs. Coats also had 23 assists.
At Logan, the Grizzlies (2-25, 0-9) lost their 17th in a row, falling to the Bears (5-16, 3-6).