Volleyball Schedule

Mission to roar

Tigers explode past Thunder, win 3A state title
Nov. 2, 2013
Written by Tom Zulewski

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Hurricane players celebrate after beating Desert Hills in the 3A championship
at Utah Valley University on Saturday. / Trevor Christensen / The Spectrum & Daily News

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Hurricane's Brooklyn Gubler takes a shot against
Desert Hills during the 3A final at Utah Valley University
on Saturday. / Trevor Christensen / The Spectrum & Daily News

 

OREM — The Hurricane Tigers knew their recent story against Desert Hills wasn’t a pretty one — at least during the regular season. Two three-game sweeps at the hands of the Region 9 champs didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

Playoffs? 3A title on the line? It clearly brought out the growl in the Tigers.

Senior Brooklyn Gubler had 15 kills, Shania Hurst added 13, and Hurricane shut down Desert Hills in a 3-0 sweep (25-19, 25-19, 25-11) to claim its first 3A state volleyball title since 2008 on Saturday night at the UCCU Center.

While the Thunder were the ones looking to keep the 3A championship trophy in St. George, Hurricane had other ideas, and the team’s seniors weren’t afraid to act on them, especially in the final set.

“Desert Hills is an especially good team, but it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season,” Hurricane coach Daniel McKeehan said. “We have a lot of seniors on the floor, and that matters at state tournaments. I didn’t expect (the match) to go fast, but I’m glad it did.”

The first two sets were tight all the way through, but one big play that closed out the second changed the Tigers’ momentum.

After two kill attempts were handled, Tiger senior Malary Reid threw up a block that landed safely in the middle of the Thunder side of the court and put them one set away from its second championship in five years.

“We knew we just had to play how we’ve been playing the whole tournament,” said Reid, who came to Hurricane from Moapa High for her senior year. “If our passing dropped off, we wouldn’t have been as good.”

With a two-set lead in tow, the Tigers brought out their big hitters, leaving the Thunder with little to no chance for any sort of return. When senior Sela Felo took Addie Edwards’ 27th assist and hammered it emphatically down the center of the Desert Hills defense at match point, the players didn’t hesitate to start a celebratory dog pile on each other, then every hand held the championship trophy aloft together as one — coupled with shouts of joy that could be heard back home.

For Gubler and the rest of the Tiger team, the two losses to the Thunder provided powerful motivation.

“We were disappointed with the two losses from before, so we came in knowing we had a point to prove,” Gubler said. “Everyone had the same goal and we were totally unified.”

The Tigers advanced to the title match with a pure survival test in the semifinal against Snow Canyon that featured several huge swings in momentum. After taking a 2-1 match lead, the Warriors were able to force a fifth game before Hurricane started fast and held on, winning 26-28, 25-8, 25-16, 18-25, 15-9).

The victory ended the Warriors’ streak of championship-game appearances — 3A or 4A — at seven in a row.

“At times, we showed our age with no seniors (on the roster),” Snow Canyon head coach Alaina Parker said. “Look out, Utah, because all of these kids will be back next year. It was a great experience for them, and a great weekend all around.”

The Thunder reached the final for the second straight year after they got through their own tough stretch in a 3-1 victory over 2010 and 2011 champion Morgan (25-23, 16-25, 25-22, 25-17).

There were two key junctures against the Trojans that tilted the match in Desert Hills’ favor. In Game 3 the Thunder erased a 17-15 deficit en route to prevailing. And in Game 4 they used an 8-0 run to move out to a 13-7 lead before earning the victory.