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High school volleyball: No. 3 seed Copper Hills eases past American Fork to advance to 6A semifinals

WEST JORDAN — The Copper Hills volleyball team was right where it expected to be Thursday night.

Playing on its home floor against American Fork in the 6A state tournament quarterfinals, the Grizzlies took another step forward with a comfortable 25-21, 25-21, 25-12 victory. Afterward, coach Silver Fonua looked around after playing in his home gym for the final time this season and noted the semifinal contest Friday — at 10 a.m. at Hillcrest High School — wouldn’t be so easy.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Fonua said. “Now we’ve got Pleasant Grove, and they knocked us out last year. They’re a good team, and they have tradition. That’s exactly what we’re trying to build here. In order to get to their spot, we have to beat them.”

That match last season came in the 6A championship, and the Grizzlies only loss in their 30-1 season this year was a rematch on Sept. 3. After earning the No. 3 seed at state, Copper Hills comfortably handled the sixth-seeded Cavemen to get another chance. Fonua was familiar with the Cavemen and didn’t expect an easy time, but his squad led almost the entire way and impressed American Fork coach Shantell Shoell.

“We wanted to be at our best tonight,” Shoell said. “We had our moments, but not enough.

“Our region (4) is a beast, but this (Copper Hills) is a beastly team.”

Copper Hills didn’t show great size, speed or depth, but Fonua said the Grizzlies matched American Fork‘s intensity and made the necessary plays. Led by its front-line players — Jenacee Jensen, Elle Hutchings and Priscilla Moleni — the Grizzlies made few mistakes and did not permit American Fork to seize any momentum during the 75-minute match in front of perhaps 100 socially distanced fans.

But that’s been the story of their season. Other than losing to Pleasant Grove, the Grizzlies only felt tested by one other school — Riverton — during their 10-0 run in Region 3. Copper Hills may not yet qualify as a dynasty in volleyball, but a win over Pleasant Grove would give it a chance to play in the title contest Saturday at Hillcrest High School and perhaps earn the school’s first trophy in this sport.

“We want to be in the running every year, and we have been right there the last three years,“ Fonua said.

Lone Peak takes on Fremont in other 6A semifinal at 1 p.m.

Other 6A quarterfinal scores:

Lone Peak def. Corner Canyon, 25-19, 26-24, 16-25, 25-18

Fremont def. West Jordan, 21-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-15

Pleasant Grove def. Syracuse, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19