Two familiar foes, No. 3 Lone Peak and No. 4 Pleasant Grove, faced off in the 2021 6A volleyball state championship Saturday at UVU.
The Knights repeated as champs, picking up their fifth state title in six years with a 3-1 victory over the Vikings.
“The greatest thing about this team is that we needed everyone. We’ve got some great hitters, but it wasn’t a one-person show,” Lone Peak head coach Reed Carlson said. “Everyone needed to step up and take part in the match and they did.
“We had so many girls that just put it all out there tonight, and they did all season. Like every team, there’s some ups, there’s some downs, but I tell you what, when it matters, these girls show up.”
The two region rivals met three previous times this season, with Lone Peak holding the 2-1 advantage. Pleasant Grove’s win over the Knights came last week in the final match of the regular season.
Carlson wanted to make sure his team didn’t let the Vikings beat them again.
“We talked about being tougher,” he said. “(Pleasant Grove) came into our house on senior night and they outhustled us and we said that would never happen again. We wanted this match to prove that. (Our girls) stepped up today and made sure it didn’t.”
Both Region 4 teams were unfazed by the big stage, having combined for nine of the last decade of state championships following Saturday’s match. The initial set was neck and neck throughout, with the Vikings being led by senior outside hitter Ashley Gneiting.
She helped propel a Viking six-point run mid-set to give her team a three-point lead. Lone Peak closed the gap before the Vikings ultimately earned a 26-24 win.
The next set was much more one-sided, as the Knights led from start to finish. Lone Peak’s advantage only increased as the set wore on, ending in a 25-15 Knights victory.
Lone Peak’s second-set momentum carried over into the third as it jumped out to a 15-5 lead, but Pleasant Grove shifted the momentum right back in its favor, scoring nine straight points to tighten up the contest.
With the set tied at 24, the Knights used a Viking service error followed by senior Kelli Jo Burgess’ massive block to score twice and take a 2-1 set lead.
Burgess recognized how important her block was for her team.
“We were so close, and I was struggling with my block a bit,” she said. “I knew I wanted to end that, so I just went up and pressed it and blocked it.”
Burgess and the Knights continued to control the match, taking a big lead in set four. This time around, Lone Peak kept Pleasant Grove from coming back, defeating the Vikings 25-15.
“It feels so good,” Burgess said of repeating as state champions. “I used to go (to Pleasant Grove). Playing them, I wanted to prove why I switched to Lone Peak, and we think we did just that.”