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Tintic so good it surprises its coach

Sharel Jones knew the Tintic volleyball team was going to be good, but just how good surprised even the longtime coach.

"I didn't know we'd do this good," said the Miners' coach. "They came out in the preseason really strong, and then they just kept winning and winning."

Tintic just kept winning until it had finished region play with a perfect record, and it had only one preseason loss and two losses at a tournament.

"It's been awesome," Jones said of the Miners, who square off against Duchesne in the first round of the 1A volleyball tournament at UVSC today at 3 p.m. "I think it's just been a combination of the girls. They've really come together as a team. What one lacks, another makes up for, and they really work well together as a team."

Jones, who played volleyball at Tintic High and has been the coach for the past 12 years, said she doesn't remember an undefeated region season.

"It's been fun for the whole town," she said with a laugh. "It was really nice."

One of the best moments for the squad was beating Region 18 rival Dugway on the Mustangs home court.

"We just couldn't seem to beat them out there and this year we did," she said.

In addition to good chemistry, the Miners have some talented athletes on the floor and a new assistant coach on the sideline.

"Jodie Hughes has brought a lot of energy, and it's been really nice to have someone new come in," Jones said. Among those contributing for the Miners are senior setter Casey Wahlberg, who is so athletic Jones said, "I'd play her everywhere if I could."

Junior setter Samantha Jones, sophomore libero Merissa Stutz, senior middle blocker Jadea Hopes, senior middle blocker Nichole Sweat, junior outside hitter Cortney Myers and senior outside hitter Kelcie Carter make the Miners a tough squad to beat.

Despite heading into the tournament with a near-perfect record, Jones said she doesn't feel any pressure on the team.

"This is the least nervous I've been in all the time I've coached," she said. "I just want them to play well and enjoy the ride. It's been awesome."

Top-ranked Rich is the tournament's favorite, and while the powerhouse looks as unbeatable as ever, many teams would love the chance to try and bring down the volleyball Goliath. Second-ranked Panguitch will square off against Monument Valley, while third-ranked Piute will face Green River in the first game of the tournament. Fourth-ranked ICS will face Milford in the first round, Monticello will face St. Joseph.