MIDVALE — Familiarity is in place when it comes to the Mountain View and Timpview volleyball teams with most of the players on the same club teams — and of course, there’s the region rivalry, with the two squads splitting regular-season matches.
So, it was a surprise to no one that it took five sets to decide the 5A state champion Saturday.
After all was said and done, it was the Thunderbirds who hoisted the championship trophy for the first time since 2014 with the 3-2 (25-19, 25-27, 25-20, 23-25, 15-8) tilt in their favor that prevented a Bruin title defense.
“Coming into this game, I knew we were going to do a really good job because there was no pressure, we felt relaxed. Our coach is really good at helping us fight through pressure.” — Timpview setter Silina Damuni
Timpview coach Charmay Lee said she expected absolutely nothing different than what she watched unfold in the match.
“Mountain View is a very solid team,” said Lee, who as a player lost two state volleyball championships with Mountain View. “They play at the highest level of competition and I want to beat somebody at their best. I felt like they did that tonight, they were really good.”
The atmosphere was electric throughout the match with Timpview rolling out to a 9-4 lead in the first set behind seven straight serving points by sophomore setter Silina Damuni, highlighted by two aces. Mountain View never really found its stride in the set, while everything seemed to literally fall in the Thunderbirds’ favor.
The opening set is always nice to have under your belt, but Timpview knew the Bruins were far from done as they battled back (27-25) to even things up. Mountain View found its turning point in the set when it caught a break it didn’t see at first as a ball that was hit into the net rolled straight down onto Timpview’s side to put the Bruins up 10-9.
The Bruins pressed their lead behind a strong hitting and blocking attack by Lucy Perez and Julia Cavalcanti. It was Cavalcanti who blocked the last Thunderbird swing to seal the win.
“Mountain View is a really strong team and we knew that it would take more than three to take them down,” said Kesa Makasini. “I think it was our team coming together, playing for each other, taking everything from the crowd (that was the key).”
Set 3 saw another great battle with Mountain View tipping around the Thunderbird block to cut the deficit to 21-20. But Thunderbird middle blocker Brielle Rueckert took over and recorded two kills as Timpview scored four straight to win.
- Watch replay: Timpview 3, Mountain View 2
Rueckert and Mountain View’s Mia Lee continued the battle in the middle into the fourth set, but this time Lee’s team won to even things up. Lee had three instances of back-to-back points off hitting and blocking to put Mountain View up 22-15 at one point. Timpview kept pushing and cut the margin to 24-23 before Perez’s hit went off the Timpview block out of bounds.
Despite dropping the set, the Thunderbirds had the momentum and used Damuni’s serve again to go up 4-0 in the final frame. Lee threw down a kill to give the Bruins their first point, but the team couldn’t get closer than within three before falling 15-8.
“Coming into this game, I knew we were going to do a really good job because there was no pressure, we felt relaxed,” said Damuni. “Our coach is really good at helping us fight through pressure.”
Damuni finished with four aces in a night that saw the two teams combine for 21 total. Rueckert and Mia Lee, fittingly, finished with 14 kills each in the battle of the middle to lead their teams, while Makasini and Perez tallied 12.
“We were confident coming in with the way we prepared and the way we played all week,” said Rueckert. “That was a lot of fun.”