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Vikings motivated to post quick victory

Pleasant Grove's Hailey Jeppson gets a point despite the Skyline defense.
Pleasant Grove's Hailey Jeppson gets a point despite the Skyline defense.
Brian Nicholson, for the Deseret Morning News

It wasn't always evident, but the Pleasant Grove volleyball team was extremely motivated not only to win its match Tuesday night at Skyline, but to win it as fast as possible.

The motivation, however, had nothing to do with beating another ranked opponent.

"We have a (teammate), JaNae Mortensen, our other setter, who is in the homecoming pageant," said senior outside hitter Hailey Jeppson, after the No. 2 Vikings swept the No. 4 Eagles 25-23, 25-14, 25-16. "We really wanted to go watch her."

The pageant started at 7 p.m., and the volleyball match started about 6:30 p.m.

"There are 19 girls and she was No. 17, so we're hoping we'll see her finish," said senior outside hitter Kortney Robinson. "Our cheers tonight were always for JaNae. We yelled JaNae, Mortensen or No. 6. We really want to go to the homecoming pageant."

Despite their eagerness to support their teammate, the Vikings came out a little flat.

"Pleasant Grove played a slow match tonight," said coach Mike Daniel. "Our passing put us out of our offense; we started real slow."

Trying to make adjustments when the problem is mental or emotional is difficult for a coach.

"You can't tell your players to move their feet, or make an adjustment," he said. "I just told them to be loud, play with passion or I'll take you out of the game and put someone else who is louder than you in the game."

The Vikings had no blocks in the match's first game, and Daniel said they finished with just 5 1/2.

He wasn't sure why the team was so flat, and neither were his players.

"We just got out there and we were blah," Robinson said. "It was weird to me."

Daniel speculated that the team might have gotten a bit complacent as Tuesday's match was the third meeting between the two teams.

"We've seen them a whole bunch," Daniel said. "But you can't overlook Skyline. They're a great team, and a great defensive team."

The Eagles played well in the first match and wasted no time jumping out to a lead they didn't relinquish until both teams tied at 21 points.

"To lose that first game after leading the whole time was devastating to them," said Skyline coach Jami Hutchins. "We got tentative and didn't play to win . . . They were trying so hard to do it right, that they were early on the swing. They got blocked by the tape six times in a row in the third game."

Still, several Eagle players had good games, with setter Jaimie Judkins leading the way with 20 assists and eight digs.

Ari Logan added six kills, while Katie Astell had five kills and three blocks. Tori Norton finished with eight digs.

Pleasant Grove's defense helped its offense find footing after a sluggish opening game. Libero Morgan Lloyd picked up nine digs, shoring up her position as one of the best in the state at that position.

"They would not serve her the ball," Daniel said. "She's one of the best passers in the country. She could play on some of the college teams I've watched right now . . . She's that good."

Junior Kailee May led the team's offense with nine kills. Pleasant Grove's setter , just 5-foot-2, Allyce Wilson, had six kills and finished with a .750 hitting percentage, in addition to 31 assists.

"She also ran a very nice offense for us tonight," Daniel said. Jeppson added nine kills in the win.