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Emery, San Juan, Rich favored at prep volleyball tournaments

In the year of region realignment, it seems only fitting that the state volleyball tournament format be tinkered with a little bit as well.

Four of the state's five classifications will now play a true double-elimination tournament, but with a slight twist. If a team with one loss beats a team with no losses in the championship match, a one-game playoff to 15 points will determine the champion instead of another best 2-out-of-3 match.Two of the classifications - 3A and 2A - will experience the new format when their state tourneys are played this weekend. The Class 1A tournament will keep its old format of one loss and you can't win the title.

All three tournaments run Friday through Saturday and, in another change, all three will be played simultaneously at Utah Valley State College.

Here now is a brief look at each tournament.

CLASS 3A: Having been ranked No. 1 all season long, the Emery Spartans are the clear favorite to repeat as state champions. Led by Hawaii-bound senior Adrianne Bradley, the Spartans went unbeaten in region play, finished first in the Region 8/9 tournament last week and have yet to lose to a 3A team this year.

"The pressure is all on us because we are the returning champions," said Emery head coach Nancy Martinez.

The Spartans aren't the only state champions in the tournament, however. Region 7 champion Morgan won the last two 2A tournament titles before being bumped up to 3A this year and placed first in the Region 7/10 tournament.

Martinez expects Region 8 foe North Sanpete to be a sleeper team, and a possible second-round matchup between Morgan and North Sanpete to be a dandy. The Hawks have team height that matched up well with Emery's in region play, while the Trojans have court quickness.

CLASS 2A: With Morgan gone, the eight teams in the tournament are all thanking their lucky stars, but maybe none more so than Enterprise. Besides avoiding the Trojans, the second-ranked Wolves, who moved up from the 1A ranks this year, don't have to take a back seat to perennial 1A champion Rich either.

Enterprise made a smashing debut in its new region, placing second in Region 11's regular season to Millard and then beating the Eagles to win the region tournament.

Top-ranked San Juan easily handled fifth-ranked Manti in their inter-region matchup on Wednes-day, establishing itself as a title favorite. A possible second-round meeting with third-ranked Millard would be a gem.

Region 11 showed it was the class of the 2A regions after Wednesday's inter-region play. More than half of the teams remaining in the tournament are from that region.

CLASS 1A: Once again, this tournament is really a battle for second place as the top-ranked Rich Rebels should have little problem in winning it all. The Rebels are looking to garner their sixth-straight championship, breaking the state-record of five-straight they set last year.

The only pressure the Rebels feel is from themselves, not wanting to be the team that ends the winning streak.

"This is the same team from last year except we lost one senior," said Rich head coach Cindy Stuart. "They are a better team than last year because they've got another year under their belts and they are just experienced players."

The battle for second should come down to either Intermountain Christian, Wayne and Manila, since all three teams are in the bracket opposite Rich. ICS went unbeaten in Region 14, Wayne went unbeaten in Region 15 and Manila put up a good fight against the Rebels in region play this year.