SUGAR HOUSE — Cottonwood's top-ranked volleyball team lost a region match for the first time in 14 games.
Both Cottonwood and Highland came into this Region 6 showdown undefeated and in control of the region at stake. The host Rams didn't waste any time showing their newest rival who the boss is. Highland crushed Cottonwood in three games using great defense and pinpoint serving.
"We just did all the little things right," said coach Clint Barnes. "They know Cottonwood is a great team, and they just went out there and did it."
Playing in front of a boisterous crowd and tough opponents, the Colts looked like they lost some confidence in themselves. The Rams noticed it, too.
"They seemed a little scared out there," said Rams sophomore Losa Fakosi. "They were the team to beat, and we just stepped it up," she said.
Cottonwood star Shonie Solomona didn't disagree, "I think when they started scoring on us, we became a little intimidated."
With a long way to go before the region championship is settled, the Colts and Rams know this didn't decide much.
In an unusual move, the Rams took a trip to Southern California last week to take on some of the top programs in Orange County. They went 0-4 against 1A competition, which is the equivalent to Utah's Class 5A level. Coach Barnes says it was a great learning experience for his team because they got to see first-hand how speed and quickness could help on the court.
"Playing against girls at that level really helped us," he said. "The whole idea was to see the best of the best. Hopefully we can learn from it."
No question Highland has learned to play better. During the preseason, they had a record below .500. Rams senior Valerie Iloa said the team wasn't taking it seriously enough and now that's all changed.
Despite the loss to the Rams, Cottonwood still remains on track to win the region.
"Oh, they're (Cottonwood) still the team to beat, no question about it," says Barnes. "I know they're a good team, they just didn't have their best game," said Iloa.
The Rams senior says they aren't going to make too much of it because they know they still have to play the Colts at Cottonwood.
When they meet in a couple of weeks, coach Bob Berrett thinks they'll be better prepared. "We didn't come ready to play. Having seen them now, we'll be ready," Berrett says.
The Colts will have to wait until Oct. 18 for the rematch with Highland.