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Baffled Braves glad to finish with a win

OREM — It was not the win coach Samantha Stephens had envisioned for her team, but unlike most teams, North Summit did end the season with a win.

The Braves swept Layton Christian to earn a fifth-place finish redeeming what was a disappointing run in the 2A state volleyball tournament at UVSC's McKay Events Center for the fourth-ranked team.

"I wish we could have yesterday back," said Stephens after the Braves bested two region rivals in South Summit and Layton Christian to earn the fifth-place finish. "But that was really, really nice to finish that way. (We) were ready to play today."

Senior middle hitter Kelly Stuart felt good about how the team bounced back Saturday, but she was as baffled as her coach for an explanation as to how they played Friday.

"I don't know," she said of Friday's disappointing outing. "Yesterday, we were just not into it.... I'm glad we took fifth."

Stuart finished with six kills and three blocks, while senior middle hitter Amy Donaldson added nine kills and Katie Vernon finished with eight kills. Setter Janessa Williams earned 26 assists and three aces in running the potent offense.

Stephens said her team had a bit of an inferiority complex when it came to some of the Region 12 teams.

"For our team, I think we have something mental about North Sevier and South Sevier," she said, referring to the team's second-round loss to fourth-seeded South Sevier.

The Braves had no such problem Saturday as they played well against both region teams that they'd split with in the regular season.

The loss gave the Eagles, who were Region 14's first-place team, seventh place in the tournament.

Layton Christian coach Joy Nakaishi said he was proud that his team was able to compete in 2A the year it moved into the larger classification.

"It makes me feel like we're doing the right things," he said. "It's nice to play tougher competition. It holds my kids more accountable."

The Eagles were led by senior middle hitter Tess Lawrence, who earned 10 kills. Sophomore middle hitter Jasmine Porter added eight kills, while Alexi Johnson finished with five kills. Senior setter Alyssa Miller finished with 27 assists.