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Stapley leads Morgan to sweet three-peat

OREM — Senior Marcie Jo Stapley couldn’t imagine her volleyball career at Morgan High School ending without her third straight 3A state title.

“No way. I honestly couldn’t imagine. I played with my amazing team. They could have done it without me. They’re just so amazing, I can’t imagine a way to end my season,” Stapley said.

Morgan defeated North Sanpete 3-0 (25-11, 25-11, 25-21) at the UCCU Center on the campus of UVU to three-peat. Throughout the 3A state tournament, the Trojans did not drop a set. In fact, Morgan has not lost a 3A volleyball match since 2014.

The key to Morgan’s continued success? Longtime Trojan head coach Liz Wiscombe, who was named the Governor’s State of Sport Coach of the Year in 2016, says that it’s “good kids.”

One of the hallmarks of Morgan’s volleyball teams, year after year, is toughness.

“It’s been really fun. It’s been a challenge, but these kids, I don’t know where they come from sometimes. They just dig deep and make a great defensive play, and it just gets us right back in it. They’re just mentally tough. They love a challenge and they accept it and they hit it head on. They don’t ever sidestep a challenge, and I’m just proud of them. I’m proud of everybody,” Wiscombe said. “It’s been a tough year for some things, but they battled like crazy, and here they are again.”

Morgan will shortly add its 15th state volleyball trophy under Wiscombe to the trophy case at the high school, and Wiscombe enjoys every one of them.

“We were talking before and we said, ‘You’re never assumed to get into the championship game. You have to work really hard to get there, and you’ve got to take it like that,’” Wiscombe said. “You can’t just say ‘We’re in it again.’ It’s a different group of kids, it’s for them that you’re here, it’s them that do it. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been in it, it never gets old. Never.”

After glitzy starting lineups, which featured a lights-out introduction of both teams — complete with a smoke machine and spotlights, Morgan started the match on fire. The Trojans won eight of the first 10 points of the match and never looked back, winning the first set 25-11. North Sanpete only scored consecutive points on three occasions in the opening frame.

Wiscombe said that getting out to a good start was key.

“Very important, because that’s a good North Sanpete team. They’re well-coached and they’re a very good team and we knew that we had to jump on them quick in order to keep up the momentum and let them know that we’re still around. That’s a very good North Sanpete team,” Wiscombe said.

The second set was more what Morgan did in the first set — overpower the Hawks. The Trojans won eight of the first 10 points of the second set, and went on to win the set 25-11.

After the break, North Sanpete came out determined to do what no other team in the state tournament had done, win a set against Morgan. The Hawks took their first lead of a set early in the third, and kept fighting. North Sanpete trailed Morgan 21-20 late, but the Trojans took four of the next five points to capture the third and final set 25-21 and send the Morgan students rushing onto the floor to celebrate with the team.

“My mind was blank, I was just so excited and happy. I’m so proud of the girls for all of their hard work and how long that we put in this hard work for. I was just so excited, all the girls were just on top of me, we were just crying and enjoying the moment together,” Stapley said.

For Stapley, a new challenge awaits. The senior middle blocker/hitter has committed to play volleyball at Snow College.

“I am ready. I’m ready to go on to college,” Stapley said.