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High school volleyball: Union sweeps Morgan for 3rd straight state title

Union High School celebrates their 3A volleyball state championship game against Morgan High at Utah Valley University in Orem on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.
Union High School celebrates their 3A volleyball state championship game against Morgan High at Utah Valley University in Orem on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

The 2021 3A volleyball state championship saw two familiar schools in the final with No. 2 Morgan facing No. 4 Union for the third straight year. In those meetings the Cougars remained unbeaten against the Trojans, coming out on top again Thursday in a 3-0 sweep.

The final game was all set early in the day following Morgan’s win over No. 14 Richfield. The Trojans joined Union in the title game after the Cougars 3-1 upset victory over No. 1 Emery.

Morgan entered the championship match having yet to drop a set at Utah Valley University, the site for the 3A state playoff. That quickly changed as Union handed the Trojans three straight losses en route to its third straight state title.

“One of our big things we talk about is being disciplined,” Union head coach Analaine Mailoto said when asked about defeating Morgan three years in a row. “You’ve got be disciplined in practice, you’ve got to be disciplined in school. You’ve got to be disciplined as good people.”

Mailoto’s team stayed disciplined throughout the match, keeping calm and in control nearly the entire game. The Cougars jumped out to early leads to start every set. Only the first set saw the Trojans overcome an early deficit and take a 19-15 lead. Union roared back to tie the match up at 20 before winning 26-24.

When asked about her team’s gritty first set victory Mailoto said, “Both teams were working really hard. Winning that naturally gives stress on the other team. Even though we won doesn’t mean we get to let up. You have to keep working hard. Every single point is going to matter.”

The Cougars didn’t let up in the second set, winning comfortably 25-17. As the next set began, Union picked up right where it left off, gaining a quick lead and ultimately extending that advantage. Senior outside hitter Kinslee Drake got on a roll, scoring five points to Morgan’s one to give her team a 19-12 lead. The Cougars coasted the rest of the way, picking up a 25-18 win and another state title over the Trojans.

“I realized that was the last time I would ever hit again,” Drake said of her performance. “I wanted to leave everything out on the court. I wanted to do it for my team. We just love each other so much and we want to do everything for each other, and I wanted to finish that for them.”

Drake helped propel her team in the final set, keeping the Trojans at bay. Her final game for the Cougars had a familiar ending.

But Drake and her teammates wanted extra this year. “We said at the beginning of the game, ‘The first year we beat them in five, the second year we beat them in four, this year we want to beat them in three,’” she said. “We care about our community, and we wanted to leave a legacy. Our first year that we won state, we talked about how were going to leave a legacy.”

Union has done just that, leaving an impressive legacy of state titles that will be remembered for years to come.