MILLVILLE — With only two seniors and a new head coach, the Riverhawks are going through some growing pains to start the 2020 volleyball season.
Tuesday night was a prime example. Ridgeline took the first two sets against visiting South Summit, but then seemed to tighten up.
The Riverhawks could not finish off the 3A Wildcats. South Summit rallied to win in five, 18-25, 19-25, 25-20, 26-24, 15-9.
“We are battling a couple of injuries right now, which is hard for us, but all of the girls are working really, really hard,” first-year Ridgeline head coach Jaicee Roden said. “We do have a young team. We are learning a lot with a new offensive and defensive system. Bringing a new coach in is always hard for everyone involved. It takes a year, but the girls have responded nicely. We just need to work out some kinks, and we will be good.”
Roden, formerly Kuresa, is a Cache Valley native and actually grew up in Millville. At the time, Ridgeline did not exist. She was a standout athlete at Mountain Crest in three sports — volleyball, basketball and track & field — earning 12 letters and was named the HJ Female Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2007. She was recruited by Division I schools in all three sports and went on to play college volleyball at Utah Valley University.
“I’m happy to be here, and it’s fun,” said Roden, who has also coached high school volleyball at Corner Canyon and Mountain View.
In the crucial third set when the momentum slowly changed sides, the Riverhawks (2-4) gave away more than half of the points off their own errors. The Wildcats (5-4) enjoyed the benefit of 13 points off of bad serves, hitting errors or other Ridgeline mistakes.
“That comes with age and experience,” Roden said. “We are improving. I expect us to keep improving.”
To the Wildcats’ credit, they did turn to a pair of their seniors in Kinley Gines and Sadie Eiting. That duo came up with big hit after big hit as the match wore on.
In the fourth set, South Summit built a five-point lead, but Ridgeline clawed its way back and tied it at 22-22 and 24-24. The Wildcats evened the match when a Riverhawk serve was long, and Gines ended it with a kill.
The Wildcats used a 7-1 run to secure some breathing room in the fifth set. Once again Gines finished it off with a kill as she racked up a match-high 16 putaways. She also led both teams with six aces.
Ridgeline never trailed in the opening set, using a balanced attack. Ava Wilcox brought it to an end with a kill.
In the second set, it was a back-and-forth start until the Riverhawks used a 6-0 run to take the lead for good and cruise to a 2-0 advantage. Brinlie Crosbie had six of her team-high 12 kills in the second set. Crosbie also had three aces, as did Livvy Davies, and Ridgeline had 11 aces as a team.
In the hitting department, Savannah Perrett led Ridgeline at .409 with 10 kills. Davies led the hosts in digs with seven, while Nia Damuni had 17 assists.
Ridgeline hosts a tournament this Friday and Saturday.
“We have had some good practices, and we are all just learning and figuring some things out together as a new team,” Roden said. “This weekend we are just going to work on controlling our controllables, things like side out percentage, earning our points and minimizing our errors. Things like keeping our passes in system. They are simple things that the girls already know how to do. We just need to fine tune a little bit.”
Two valley teams were in action Wednesday as Green Canyon hosted 3A Morgan, and Sky View traveled to fellow 4A program Stansbury.
The Bobcats (7-5) took care of the Stallions in three, 25-11, 25-16, 25-13. Sky View had 14 aces as a team, 28 digs and hit .347. The Bobcats passed at 2.49 as a team.
Kaytlin Smart had nine kills and hit .389. She also had four blocks. Haley McUne led the Bobcats with 10 kills, eight aces and eight digs. Jenna Gibbons had five kills, hitting .400, while Brinley Forsgren had four kills, hitting .333.
The Wolves (5-7) fell to the Trojans (6-4) in three, 25-17, 26-24. 25-23.
“We had a hard fought battle tonight, but didn’t come out on the right side of things,” GC head coach Maddie Larsen said. “Preseason is a time to work through the kinks, and I think we are headed in the right direction. We like to play a tough preseason to prepare us for our competitive region. We are ready and excited to start region play.”
Olivia Chadwick led the Wolves with 11 kills and 19 digs. Kaylee Coats added 10 kills, hitting .409, and also had a double-double with 11 digs. Eden Faux had eight kills and four aces.