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Knights stick Dogs in warm-up

HIGHLAND — Lone Peak and Provo met in a friendly post-season match prior to the playoffs to give each a chance at playing tough competition before jumping headfirst into the state tournament Friday.

The Knights came away victorious with a 25-16, 25-14, 26-28, 25-13 score.

"It's good to have some healthy competition to get prepared. Wendy and I are friends," Lone Peak coach Deanna Meyer said about Provo coach Wendy Bills. "I respect her program and I know when we play them they'll make us better."

That certainly appeared to be true on the Knights' senior night as Lone Peak finally put things together as a team for the first time all season.

"We're playing the best volleyball we've played all season. We're finally coming into our stride, and it's important to peak at the right time," added Meyer, who knows a great deal about peaking at the right time as her Knights have won two straight 4A championships. But Lone Peak has risen to the 5A level this season, which provides a bit more of a challenge to the defending champs.

"I don't think when you're in 5A that there's an easy team to play. It's not like getting to the finals will be easy for anyone. We just have to focus on one game at a time," she noted, adding, "we're having a good time, and we're optimistic about the possibilities once we get there."

One reason the Knights have to be optimistic in the playoffs is that they're finally playing together with all their components in place. Olivia Fowler, who's been out with an ankle injury, finally returned for her first game back. And Jacki Fotu, after being out half the season recovering from a shoulder injury, is finally regaining her previous form, and even more importantly, confidence.

The Knights put together a total team effort in their defeat of the Bulldogs as Ashley Hamilton smacked down 5.5 blocks in addition to her 32 assists. Christie Carpenter pounded out 16 kills, and Jacki Fotu added nine.

But the most impressive of the Knights in games three and four was Leslie Fonbuena, who added 5.5 total blocks and eight kills.

"Leslie's so much fun to watch. She's just so athletic and quick," said her coach, who was happy with Fonbuena's play as well as both the Knights' offense and defense.

Provo prepared for the 4A tournament with a match most likely against a tougher opponent than any they'll face in the playoffs. Lori Wilson led the Bulldogs with 16 kills to match her Lone Peak counterpart. And Nalani Lobendahn added nine of her own. But the rest of the Bulldogs are going to have to chip in a little more if Provo plans to hoist the 4A trophy Saturday night.