PLEASANT GROVE — The last time the Vikings took to the volleyball court, they left with a bitter taste in their mouths and an immense amount of disappointment weighing them down.
Losing the title in a hard-fought battle with region rival Lone Peak was a hard pill to swallow, but they persevered and plan to come out this season with a new hunger and energy level. They brought that hunger into their first match of the year against Sky View, and the Bobcats received a full dose of the power in Pleasant Grove volleyball.
The Vikings won the match in three straight 25-11, 25-12, 25-21 over the Bobcats, who finally came on strong in Game three, actually leading much of the way before the Vikings took over at 19-18 and finally finished things off. Though there were no ties or lead changes in the first two games, the Bobcats did fight through 13 ties with Pleasant Grove and took their biggest lead at 6-3.
"I think the girls started the way I wanted them too. They did forget the need to put the game away in the third for awhile," said Pleasant Grove coach Jamie Schapper.
But overall she was extremely pleased with her team's effort and execution. One thing in particular the team did well was serve.
"Everyone on this team has a tough serve. We work hard to make sure that we're the top serving team. Everyone is a great server, and it makes it tough for us to figure out who we want serving the ball," said Schapper.
The servers were out in full force as Kim Dahl led the way with her powerful stroke and knocked down seven aces on the Bobcats' defense. Rae Mulitalo added six aces, and Arizona State-bound Danica Mendivil punched in five of her own from behind the service line.
The Pleasant Grove squad is a versatile bunch of individuals able to play several different positions and need to be prepared to play any spot at a moment's notice, said Schapper. And the versatility and balance shone through with the balanced kill effort also put forth by the entire squad.
Melissa Rider led the offensive attack with eight kills, followed closely by Mendivil and Jen Hamson with seven kills apiece. Kemi McFarland and Kim Dahl each added six kills to give the Vikings five players with six or more kills in a three-game match.
The Vikings are also going with having a pair of setters on the court through much of the action this year as both McFarland and Mulitalo are seeing playing time together, with Mulitalo playing strictly back row and McFarland going all-around. It provides the team with a great deal of options that Schapper is thrilled to have. McFarland finished with 18 assists in the match, while Mulitalo added 11 in the new rotation.
Sky View's Aubry Boehme played strongly at the net in her team leadership role and finished with four blocks and four kills in addition to a service ace.