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High school volleyball: West Jordan readies for region by holding off Woods Cross

Woods Cross’ Saane Katoa hits the ball during a volleyball game against West Jordan.
Woods Cross’ Saane Katoa hits the ball during a high school volleyball game against West Jordan at West Jordan High School in West Jordan on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The West Jordan girls volleyball team has only played five matches so far this year, but coach Paulasi Matavao trusts them enough that he didn’t get down — or loud — when they trailed Woods Cross midway through their nonregion match Thursday night.

Matavao said many of his girls have been playing together for three years and knew what to do. Instead of folding, they regrouped and found a way to claim a 23-25, 25-17, 26-28, 25-21, 15-12 win.

“A character game,” Matavao said. “When we won that fourth game, we regained the momentum and we made sure not to give it back.”

The Jaguars have won four matches so far and, with COVID-19 so far not having many effects on this season, Matavao believes they will be a contender for the Region 3 championship. They couldn’t match the Wildcats’ size, but Mailei Myers and Mua Letoi provided leadership and their loud home crowd boosted their spirits when it was needed.

Woods Cross coach Nicole Hogan noticed it, too. Like Matavao, she appreciated being able to compete without as much pandemic interference as last year, when her players had to wear masks when they were on the bench. She noticed her bench was active throughout and they tried to combat the West Jordan student cheering section with cheers of their own.

The Wildcats also had to play with two starters missing due to injury. To combat it, Hogan inserted a pair of sophomores into the lineup and they kept the match close. In fact, when Camille Clark, Saana Katoa and Lauren Bodily each made big plays to help the Wildcats take the third game, the outcome seemed all but determined — except to the coaches.

“I wasn’t worried,” Matavao said. “These girls have been through a lot together. I just needed to let them do their thing.”

“We needed to win that fourth game,” said Hogan. “They had the momentum and we were tired. We needed to make the plays like we did before.”

Woods Cross fell to 8-2 overall. The Wildcats have two more games before region play and Hogan hopes the team will be healthy again by that time. West Jordan is off until its region matches begin.