Over the course of what has been a dominating season thus far for Bountiful volleyball, the Redhawks have lost only a single set. On Tuesday evening, the Redhawks faced a strong test in the form of a rival Woods Cross squad that possessed 5A’s fifth-highest winning percentage and was looking to increase the total number of sets Bountiful had lost from one to four.
But with yet another straight set victory, Bountiful defeated Woods Cross to keep its number of sets lost at one, but more importantly remain undefeated as the team looks to improve upon its third-place finish in last year’s 5A state tournament.
Though winning in straight sets, the Wildcats made it far from easy on Bountiful, taking early leads in each set. Even when facing the most difficult moments in the match, the Redhawks always seemed to be lighthearted, smiling and laughing with each other.
This wasn’t because the Redhawks were underestimating their opponent — they knew full well the challenge the Wildcats presented — but it was rather a reflection of the amount of confidence the players had in themselves and in their teammates.
“This group of girls has played together for a long time,” Bountiful head coach Sarah Chism said. “What you’re seeing is belief. They believe in themselves and they believe in each other. They know if the other team makes a great play — which teams will do — it doesn’t rattle them because they believe in their ability to go back at them. We are over-believers.”
The Redhawks faced early deficits of 8-5, 6-2 and 11-9 in each set, respectively. However, like Chism said, her girls went back at them, responding to each deficit with a significant run of their own, and eventually winning comfortably by the time each set concluded.
Chism said the serving and passing is what allowed her side to overcome the strong starts that Woods Cross had to each set.
“I was very pleased with how we passed and served,” Chism said. “That’s been a focus for us. We’ve passed a lot (in practice) so we can run our middles and be in system, and then we served them tough, so we knew where to send our blockers and got our defenders in good spots to make a play.”
The Redhawks boast a vast array of tall, athletic hitters who, when given good passes, can make opposing defenses pay. Chism said that for this reason she and her team will continue to work hard on perfecting its passing game going forward.
“We have a lot of athletic girls across the board,” Chism said. “We have girls that can hit high, hit hard, they can get up and put up a nice, solid block, so when we pass well we have those hitters that are going up and our setter can just pick which one has the weakest block.”
Junior Jordan Harvey led the hitting for the Redhawks this time around, finishing with a team-high 11 kills to go along with 10 digs and four aces. Harvey’s younger sister, Taylor, finished with eight kills of her own, while Evalyn Chism recorded five kills and a team-high 12 digs.
Though the hitters for Bountiful found their way through the match, the block from Woods Cross remained strong throughout the evening, forcing the Redhawks to struggle to get the ball over the net cleanly. Despite the challenge, Chism said the mentality of her hitters never changed.
“(Woods Cross) is a big blocking team,” Chism said. “But we continued to just swing. We weren’t going to default to tipping, what we do is we swing high, we swing hard and we swing in. So when we get a big block at the net, it’s just a big target for us and we’re going to keep swinging and because of that we were able to work around their block.”
The win propelled the Redhawks to a 13-0 record on the year and despite the undefeated record it seems that Bountiful is still flying under the radar as the potential outright favorite to take home the 5A title — something that Chism and her team a very content with.
“We are sitting right where we want to be,” Chism said. “We are solely focused on our side, on our gym, on our team. We remain focused on whoever we have next and that’s all we care about. … Put us fourth, put us last, put us first or put us anywhere, it doesn’t matter because we will remain focused on the next (opponent). We’ll just go out and play and that’s all we can control.”