OREM — The smiles said it all.
With a four-game win over Wayne, fifth-ranked Whitehorse heads to the semifinals in hopes of accomplishing something no other Raider volleyball team has.
"When I was in school, my junior year, we took third," said coach Sharon Jay after the 21-25, 25-25, 25-23, 25-7 quarterfinal win at UVSC Thursday night. "I was about the tallest player on the team, and I have three or four girls taller than me on this team. I tell them all the time, 'If we could do it, there's no reason why you can't do it."
The Raiders have had an impressive run with an undefeated region season and a No. 2 seed. They lost to defending 1A champion Rich in the region tournament, which decided seeding for state. They continued their winning ways in Orem with an opening round sweep of Intermountain Christian.
"It's so exciting," said Derica Dickson, who had six kills in the win over Wayne. "It feels great, especially after all of these years."
She said they got a bit nervous when they lost the first game to Wayne but reminded each other why they'd been working so hard this year.
"It was scary," she said. "But we pulled together and smiled. That's big for us — to have fun."
Jay said she warned her squad before the match that even though the Raiders defeated the Badgers earlier in the season, the state tournament was a whole different scenario.
"They're a good, scrappy team," she said. "I told them from the beginning that if they didn't put it away, Wayne would get under it. I thought we made some good adjustments in the second game and found some holes. I told them, 'Just pound it. Because if you don't, they're quick and they'll get under it.'"
The Badgers' tenacity kept them in all four games, but in the end, it was the net play of Whitehorse that turned the match in their favor. Christina SiJohn, a sophomore middle hitter, had nine kills, two solo blocks and a number of key tips. Teammate Kolenya Holly led the offensive effort with 17 kills.
The Raiders might not know what it feels like to win a semifinal game, yet, but they do know how it feels to make the five-hour bus ride back home after just two games. None of the girls on this year's squad have entered the second day of play in the winner's bracket.
"It's kind of shocking," Dickson said grinning, again. "We're going to make history. I'm looking forward to beating my auntie's team's record. A lot of courage and team work will take us there."
The Raiders will need all of the magic they can muster as they take on second-ranked Panguitch in the semi-finals Friday at 11 a.m.
In other tournament games:
WHITEHORSE DEF. INTERMOUNTAIN CHRISTIAN 25-15, 25-19, 25-14
WAYNE DEF. WEST DESERT 25-14, 25-15, 25-17
PANGUITCH DEF. CHRISTIAN HERITAGE 25-10, 25-7, 25-18
ESCALANTE DEF. TINTIC 25-21, 25-19, 25-18
RICH DEF. LAYTON CHRISTIAN 25-14, 25-15, 25-13
ST. JOSEPH DEF. MILFORD 25-12, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21
PIUTE DEF. SALT LAKE LUTHERAN 25-10, 25-18, 25-12
WHITEHORSE DEF. WAYNE 21-25, 25-15, 25-23, 25-7
INTERMOUNTAIN CHRISTIAN DEF. WEST DESERT 25-17, 11-11, 25-17, 25-16
RICH DEF. ESCALANTE 25-8, 25-10, 26-24
LAYTON CHRISTIAN DEF. TINTIC 25-22, 22-25, 23-25, 25-12, 15-7
PANGUITCH DEF. WATERFORD 25-20, 26-24, 25-13
ALTAMONT DEF. CHRISTIAN HERITAGE 25-18, 25-21, 25-21
ST. JOSEPH DEF. PIUTE 25-23, 19-25, 25-16, 25-20
MILFORD DEF. SALT LAKE LUTHERAN 20-25, 23-25, 25-14, 25-7, 15-6