It clearly was no ordinary season for Lehi's volleyball team, due mostly to the fact that the Pioneers didn't play in an ordinary region.
Four of the top five finishers in the Class 5A state tournament last week hailed from Region 4, including champion Pleasant Grove.
Lehi, which finished fourth in region play behind Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove and Bingham, put together a pair of "upsets" on Day 1 to claim fourth place.
The first-day victories against Region 3 champion Jordan in three sets and a five-set marathon against Viewmont were upsets only on paper, according to Lehi coach Jamie Ingersoll.
"A 4 seed out of our region means absolutely nothing," Ingersoll said. "Our region is so tough. I knew a 4 seed out of our region could go out and beat a No. 1 seed. As a 1 seed, you should already be thinking at least second round. But I know with our region, that's just not the case."
The Pioneers won four games playing in easily the toughest region in the state. All six teams, including non-playoff qualifiers Riverton and American Fork, finished with an overall record better than .500.
Lehi outside hitter Breelle Bailey called it the most difficult season in which she's ever played. Perhaps just what the senior needed in preparation for what awaits her next year when she plays at Arizona State.
"It's probably been one of the hardest volleyball years I've ever played," Bailey said. "It's been really tough."
It marked the third consecutive year in which the Pioneers opened the double-elimination playoff tournament with a victory. Lehi was runner-up to Davis in 2011.
Bailey said this year's run exceeded her expectations and left her thinking what could have been if the Pioneers had been able to put everything together earlier in the season the way they did in the tournament.
"It was like a whole new team at state than in region play," Bailey said. "I'd never seen us play that well. I was surprised and proud of us. I knew we had it, but we never really figured it out during the region matches.
"We had a big dinner before and we talked everything out and figured everything out. It might have come a little too late."
As impressive as Region 4's showing was in the tournament, it was equally as disappointing for Region 3 teams. Jordan, which went 9-1 to claim its first region title in a decade, finished eighth. And each of the four teams were sent to the consolation bracket in their first match.
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