Prep volleyball: Willey, Knights on quest for 5A crown
If her past is bright, her future points in the same direction.
Lone Peak outside hitter Kizzy Willey has elevated herself to being one of the best high school volleyball players in the country with her laundry list of achievements. She has two state title rings, played on the U.S. National team and now has a college career at Arizona State she'll begin in January.
But before leaving behind high school, there's one thing she'd still like to do: bring home her first 5A championship and add another chapter to Lone Peak's rich history.
"More than the rings, we want the title," Willey said. "I know that feeling, but after last year, it made me appreciate it that much more. It's going to be that much sweeter."
Willey won her first two rings at Snow Canyon, a program some considered the best in the state at any classification. Already a phenom by the time she was a rising junior, Willey learned shortly before the season started that her family was moving.
She left behind the only team and coach she had truly known, but in the transfer found her way to another power program: Lone Peak, which has won five championships in the last 10 seasons.
The Knights run a similar system to Snow Canyon, so that transition wasn't difficult. Willey made it easier when she showed how hard she was willing to work.
"I wasn't exactly familiar with her as a player when she came over, but I knew she was from a good program," Lone Peak coach Deanna Meyer said. "One of her best skills is her work ethic: She works hard every minute of practice and got the respect of the players right away. She's also friendly and personable, and that made her easy to like."
At the end of last season, Willey and Lone Peak had to deal with a something they haven't often experienced: defeat. After falling to Davis in the semifinals, the Knights lost to Taylorsville in consolation.
It taught the players to savor the wins, to keep building toward one goal. They matured, became more tightly knit, and rolled out a 19-2 season.
Now there's only one thing left to do.
"I wouldn't change what happened last year," Willey said. "It opened our eyes. We like the pressure of it. We're playing together and staying united."
Davis looking to defend 5A title
These Darts aren't the same team that romped through last year's 5A tournament, but they might be just as tough. At 29-1, Davis looks like a top contender again, blazing through competition with leaders such as Camille Walker and Kaylie Kamalu.
In the hunt will be Lone Peak, which features three seniors committed to Division I programs, while Pleasant Grove also appears to be back in full force. The Vikings are the only team that has beaten Davis this year. Jordan, Bingham and Layton also hope to have their say in state before all is said and done.
Salem Hills hunting for redemption in 4A
What's the best way to make up for a runner-up finish at state? Win the title the next year.
That's what the Skyhawks are hoping to do to cap a 27-3 season in which the team already beat defending champion Timpview three times. Led by hitter Macky Treanor, Salem Hills has been one of the most consistent 4A powers this year.
But the Skyhawks won't be the only ones: One-loss Sky View has an eye for the prize after sweeping its region this season, while Woods Cross and Westlake also are entering as wild cards with No. 1 seeds. Timpview and Provo could also make a late push.
4A and 5A state volleyball tournament
At Utah Valley University Friday
5A first round
Alta v. Bingham, 9 a.m.
Davis v. Kearns, 9 a.m.
Taylorsville v. Northridge,9 a.m.
Pleasant Grove v. Brighton, 9 a.m.
Hunter v. Fremont,10:30 a.m.
Lone Peak v. West Jordan, 10:30 a.m.
Jordan v. Lehi, 10:30 a.m.
Layton v. Viewmont,10:30 a.m.
Alta/Bingham v. Davis/Kearns, noon
Taylorsville/Northridge v. Pleasant Grove/Brighton, noon
Hunter/Fremont v. Lone Peak/West Jordan, 1:30 p.m.
Jordan/Lehi v. Layton/Viewmont, 1:30 p.m.
4A first round
Herriman v. Highland,3:30 p.m.
Salem Hills v. Timpanogos, 3:30 p.m.
Sky View v. Springville,3:30 p.m.
Bountiful v. Skyline,3:30 p.m.
Mountain Crest v. Timpview, 5 p.m.
Woods Cross v. Murray,5 p.m.
Westlake v. East, 5 p.m.
Provo v. Bonneville, 5 p.m.
Herriman/Highland v. Salem Hills/Timpanogos
Sky View/Springville v. Bountiful/Skyline
Mountain Crest/Timpview v. Woods Cross/Murray
Westlake/East v. Provo/Bonneville