5A volleyball: Pleasant Grove keeps title defense hopes alive
Orem • Pleasant Grove coach Allyce Jones might be the first to admit that her team's play Thursday might not have been the ideal way for the Vikings to open defense of their Class 5A state title.
But the Vikings got through, winning a pair of four-set matches against Davis and Brighton to advance to the state semifinals Saturday.
"We'll take a win when we need it at the state tournament, but definitely it wasn't our prettiest matches," Jones said.
"It's good to have a few games at the beginning where we can get into the groove of things," Pleasant Grove outside hitter Rachel Gale said after the 25-20, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23 quarterfinal victory over Brighton.
Gale had plenty to do with the Vikings' win over the Bengals at the UCCU Center. She pounded away for 20 kills.
But as Pleasant Grove (23-6) increasingly turned to the senior as the primary offensive weapon, Brighton (15-7) crept back into the match by winning the second set.
Freshman hitter Danielle Barton, who led the Bengals with eight kills and a pair of blocks, slapped home set point to even the match at a set apiece.
"They run a pretty quick offense, and it took us about a game to catch up," Brighton coach Adam Fernandez said. "After that, we were neck and neck with them. For never being ranked, for never being mentioned by anybody at all, to go toe-to-toe with the defending state champs I'm proud of the way we played."
Pleasant Grove will play Fremont in the semifinals. Fremont survived a five-game match against Lone Peak to start its tournament then swept Alta 25-9, 25-10, 25-19 in the quarterfinals.
In the Vikings' quarterfinal victory, the crucial third set was tied at 17-17 when Pleasant Grove rattled off the next five points behind the serving of Brisa Winterton. The senior setter also orchestrated an offense that started getting point production from sophomore Bailey Nixon and senior middle Madison Wolford.
"It is important to mix it up because sometimes the block edges over if you keep setting the same person over and over," Winterton said. "It keeps the defense on their toes because they've got to be ready for everything else."
The Vikings and Bengals also were tied late in the fourth set. But a 23-23 deadlock was broken with a Brighton service error then an ace from Wolford clinched the match.