Morgan entered Saturday’s 3A state championship with an experience advantage over Richfield. The Trojans were making their ninth straight state title appearance, but the illustrious state championship trophy had found its way to the opponent’s hands in the past three attempts.

That made this year’s victory that much sweeter.

“It’s different,” said Morgan coach Liz Wiscombe about her team’s 3-1 victory for the state title. “Second place, you just go home and beat yourself up for a year. Then you go back again and you get second place again.”

Morgan used an aggressive attack and fierce blocking after dropping the first set to come away with a fourth state title in nine years.

It wasn’t a piece of cake for the Trojans. Richfield came into the match with plenty of momentum as the number two seed in 3A. And while the Wildcats don’t have nearly the championship appearance history the Trojans do, they certainly had Morgan on its toes after the first set.

“I think Richfield is a good team,” said Wiscombe. “They are well-coached, they played hard, and I thought, ‘Oh I hope we can play with those guys.’”

Morgan’s largest lead of the first set came at the halfway point when the Trojans took a 15-11 lead. Richfield battled close and just a few points later started a run to give the Wildcats all the momentum.

Trailing 17-14, the Wildcats tallied a 6-1 run, including two aces that put Richfield ahead 20-18 and had the Wildcat faithful on their feet.

A back and forth final portion of the set went to extras, where eventually Richfield finished the deal, winning the set 1-0. Flashbacks of a second place finish once again were present, but the Trojans knew with small adjustments, they could turn the tide.

“We felt like if we could get a block up, that would really help us,” Wiscombe said. “We challenged those kids to get a block up and they responded.”

It wasn’t just a response. It was a dominant response.

Morgan started fast, jumping out to an 8-3 lead and forcing an early Wildcat timeout. The block was present, and the offense was clicking on all cylinders.

Richfield had a response of their own out of the timeout, scoring two straight points to pull within three. It seemed as if the two schools were headed for another nip and tuck set.

The Trojans had other ideas.

A 12-0 run not only gave Morgan the largest lead of the set but had the Trojans in complete control at 20-5.

“The blocking helped so much,” said Morgan junior middle Alyvia Jaffa. “When you get blocked, you stop swinging as hard and so we were able to take all of the momentum from them with those blocks. It felt so good.”

The Trojans not only found a convincing 25-10 second set victory, but the recipe for success for the rest of the match.

“Morgan is a middle game,” said Wiscombe. “We’ve got some great outsides, but we always run a lot of middles because a lot of other schools don’t see it a lot.”

The third and fourth sets saw much of the same, with the Morgan offense running through the middles and the blocking forcing Richfield’s offense out of sync. With a 2-1 set lead and facing match point, an overpass from the Richfield side allowed the Morgan offense to slam home the final point of the match, a perfect visual representation of the final three sets for the Trojans.

“It’s got to emotionally feel awesome for them,” Wiscombe said of her seniors, who for the first and final time of their careers, finished first in the state instead of second.

“They finished this time the right way.”

Although just a junior, Jaffa understood how important this one was, not just for the seniors, but for the entire Morgan volleyball community.

“The last three years we have lost in the finals, so this one was really good for us and a really good win,” mentioned Jaffa through a huge smile.

Clutching the first-place trophy and a 440th career victory, an emotional Wiscombe agreed with her junior middle.

“I told them, we could get second or we could get first. We’ve gotten second enough, and we don’t want it again,” said Wiscombe.

“They are just competitive kids. They battled tonight and I was really proud of them.”