SMITHFIELD — In a battle of defending state champions, it was the visitors that were victorious in the prep volleyball season opener for both squads Thursday night.
A senior-laden Morgan team was too much for a young Sky View group. The four-time defending 3A state champions swept the defending 4A state champs, 25-16, 25-17, 25-18.
“I have a new setter, a new defense and just two starters back,” Bobcat head coach Sheila Sorensen said. “But we saw flashes of what we can be. We will get back to the drawing board and keep working away at getting better. I was pleased with what I saw, but I know we can do better.”
Sorensen likes to schedule talented opponents to prepare for region action and the state playoffs. A year ago the Trojans beat the Bobcats, but it took four sets. It was one of just six setbacks for Sky View in all of 2018.
“I love to schedule hard matches,” Sorensen said. “We have four hard preseason matches. We are playing three teams that have been state champions. ... We will keep getting better.”
The Bobcats return two starters from a year ago and have just two seniors on the roster. Sky View struggled against a Trojan team with six starting seniors and the reigning 3A MVP in outside hitter Emery Wheeler. Morgan also returns all-state middle blocker Abbie Cox.
Wheeler had 15 kills in the match and kept the Bobcat block on their toes throughout. Cox had six kills and several blocks.
“They definitely were a good opponent,” said SV middle blocker Jenna Gibbons, who had three aces and hit .400. “We need to work together, pull together and keep our energy up to be able to beat those hard teams. There is room for improvement.”
The Bobcats were led by outside hitter Haley McUne, one of the two returning starters. The junior, who earned honorable mention all-state last season, had eight kills and eight digs.
“I feel like this was a good way to start out the season playing such tough teams,” McUne said. “That way we can get better. Every ball we are improving and every set. We have a very, very good team. We are just young, but I really think we will do well this season.”
Bobcat right side hitter Brinley Forsgren hit .500 with four kills, while middle blocker Kaytlin Smart had four kills. Addey Wengreen came up with eight digs, while Kaitlyn Hiatt had seven.
“If we can keep up being positive and connected as a team, we can have a great season and win region again,” McUne said.
Sky View started slow, but did improve each set Thursday.
After two lead changes and three ties to start the match, the Trojans went on a 8-2 run, building a 10-5 lead. Morgan never looked back as the Bobcats struggled in the serving department.
“At one point we were at 50 percent serving,” Sorensen said. “That’s not enough for a varsity team. We will tweak little things here and there.”
In the second set, the visitors built a 8-3 lead and never trailed. Sky View improved its serve, but had four net violations.
In the third set, the Bobcats enjoyed an early lead, but a 6-1 run by the Trojans put them in front for good. However, the hosts did rally to tie it at 12 on back-to-back kills from Kaytlin Smart and McUne.
“This is a new team, so it’s going to take time and practicing,” Gibbons said. “We will improve over time and we definitely improved over the match. ... We are a really young team with only two seniors, but we are looking to win (region again). It will be a challenge, but we are up to it as long as we keep working hard.”
Morgan responded with a 4-0 surge and stayed at least three points ahead the rest of the set to take the match.
“I was proud of them for figuring out who they are and they will keep figuring that out,” Sorensen said. “For a while they were so nervous. ... I’m really excited about this team. They have a lot of spark, a lot of fire, a lot of tenacity. They are very competitive. We just need to get it all together, but that’s what preseason is for.”
MUSTANGS 3, WOLVERINES 0
At West Valley City, Mountain Crest began the season with a three-set win against Hunter.
The Mustangs came up with the big plays to win the first two sets, and then put the Wolverines away in the third, 25-19, 25-22, 25-13.
Ali Pehrson led Mountain Crest with seven kills. Tally Sofonia had six kills, while Katie Keller added five. Jaycee Osborne had 28 assists for the Mustangs.