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High school volleyball: ‘Hungry’ Skyridge team knocks off Mountain Ridge in 4 sets

A Skyridge player hits the ball over the net
Mountain Ridge and Skyridge compete in a girls volleyball match in Herriman on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

After a 2020 season that left much to be desired, this year’s Skyridge Falcons are “hungry” to put last year behind them and challenge the rest of the state’s top dogs.

That hunger showed in their Tuesday night road matchup with Mountain Ridge. After dropping the opening set, the Falcons rallied to win the next three sets and secure a 3-1 victory over the Sentinels, building much needed momentum as they gear up for play in one of the state’s most formidable volleyball regions: Region 4.

Skyridge head coach Deanna Meyer said after the game that her team is focused on getting better day by day and the experience of Tuesday night’s match helped them to get better as they look to transform themselves into one of the state’s top teams.

“Mountain Ridge really showed us what we need to work on and it was a great match because they made us better,” Meyer said. “We’re gearing up to go into the state tournament as deep as we can this year. We’re hungry. We didn’t have the best year last year and so we want to do better and who knows what our potential is. If these girls keep working hard, they can be one of the top teams in the state.”

The momentum and experience the Falcons attained in the match didn’t come easy, as Mountain Ridge delivered a commanding 25-16 victory in the first set. Much of the struggles for Skyridge in the opening set, however, appeared to be self-inflicted, as Skyridge struggled to pass and committed hitting errors that gifted points to Mountain Ridge.

Missing some players due to COVID-19 complications, Skyridge had players shuffled around their rotation with some even playing in different spots than what they were used to. Additionally, Meyer said that Mountain Ridge’s style of play is something that her team was unfamiliar with and it took some time to adjust to in the beginning stages of the match.

“(Mountain Ridge) has a killer back row attack that is very effective, and we hadn’t really seen that yet so we had to adjust to it,” Meyer said. “Once we learned that we could move around them and their block a little bit then we started playing much better.”

As the Falcons began to settle in, the momentum began to switch their way as they won a back-and-forth second set and, in commanding fashion, a third set that saw them lead by as much as 11 points.

The Sentinels rallied to start the fourth set and reached a 12-6 lead to begin the game, but the Falcons began a rally of their own to take their first lead of the set at 20-19 and eventually sealed the match with a 25-22 victory in what ended up being the final set.

Meyer said that the match was a complete team effort for her girls, with equal contributions coming from nearly every player who saw the floor. Emma Grant and Rose Moore led the Falcons with 11 and 10 kills, respectively, while libero Licia Echevarria led the way with 14 digs.

“My team did a great job of stepping up and playing together,” Meyer said. “We focused on our side of the net and once we did that we started to pass better for our offense, and defensively we served better so we could keep them out of their system. I think those two things were the difference in the game.”

With the win the Falcons wrapped up preseason play with a 4-1 record, while Mountain Ridge dropped its second game in a row to sit at 4-2 in its preseason play.

Heading into the gauntlet of Region 4, the Falcons will continue to focus on reaching their maximum potential.

“Everybody is beatable,” Meyer said when asked what her team’s mentality will be heading into region play and onward. “That’s what I’m trying to teach these girls and that’s my message to them: ‘Why not us?’”