Orem • Considering Desert Hills and Snow Canyon finished first and second in Region 9 and split two regular-season meetings, perhaps it was no surprise their match for the Class 3A volleyball state title went the distance.
In the end, it was Desert Hills that came from behind to win 25-11, 23-25, 18-25, 25-19, 15-12 in a match that featured its share of momentum swings between the two familiar opponents Saturday at Utah Valley University.
"We knew we never could get down," Desert Hills outside hitter Blair Bliss said. "This game's made of mistakes, and we just had to know to get the next point and not worry about the score. That's all we cared about."
The Thunder got off to a well, thunderous, start by quickly overmatching the Warriors to take the first set.
But Snow Canyon found its footing in the second, shifting the momentum for the first time. The Warriors trailed much of the set before overtaking the Thunder with several consecutive points at the end to even the match.
The Warriors then pulled away in the third set to get within striking distance of the title.
But Desert Hills won 12 of the first 14 points in the fourth set to snatch momentum heading into the decisive fifth set.
Both teams swapped points on several tense, lengthy rallies, but the Thunder finally won on Emily Purdy's smash past the Warriors defense into the corner.
"I don't think the nerves were that bad because the coaches prepared us so well," Bliss said. "We just trusted each other and played our best."
Bliss, one of the Thunder's biggest leaders despite being just a junior, had a team-best 17 kills for the Thunder, and Natalie Swann had 18 kills for the Warriors.
Desert Hills swept Delta 25-17, 25-23, 25-22 in its semifinal to reach the championship, but it was closer than a typical three-set win.
The Thunder, who struggled in the first set in their quarterfinal before cruising to the win, easily won the first set against the Rabbits. But the Rabbits didn't go easily from there, pushing the Thunder in the final two sets, and the match could very well have gone longer.
Snow Canyon pulled off a stunner in its semifinal, soundly sweeping defending two-time champion Morgan, 25-15, 25-20, 25-15.
Storylines Region 9 foes battle
R Desert Hills rallies to win the last two sets to knock off fellow Region 9 opponent Snow Canyon in five sets in the 3A state championship match.