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Cowboy Volleyball takes second at State with impressive 26-5 season

Cowboys headed up to the Sevier Valley Center (SVC) on Friday after school with a nice student body and parent send off. The first game was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. against Rowland Hall, the 15th seed. It was a great first game to have against a lower seed to get some of the state scene jitters out. It had been 10 days since our last game so our team was pumped to play.

We started really strong and never let up. In the first set Ashlyn Houston got on a serving run and pushed eight serves in a row with three of those being aces. Livi Bundy had four big kills and a block from the middle. Anna Cutler and Emilie Gilberg both had a big hustle play each. The final score of the first set was 25-9.

KHS Volleyball Seniors (l-r) Livi Bundy, Hadley Barnson, London Fenus and Madi Orton, stand proudly with their trophy. Photo submitted by KHS coaches.

In the second set the team was determined to keep them to a lower score than the first. This game, Cutler got a serving run and pushed 11 serves in a row with one of those being an ace. Madi Orton had six kills and Savannah Bateman added three. Haylie McQuivey and London Fenus led in digs. The final score was 25-7. During the third, set McQuivey was the junior that pushed top serves with eight serves and four of those were aces. We love when our strong servers on this team get on serving runs and dominate games with their tough consistent serves. Bundy led this set with three kills and a solo block while freshman Rylee Little got two. A few of the younger girls got in the game to get a feel of the State atmosphere. We ended the match in three with the final score of this game ending 25-11. This win advanced us to our next game that day at 8:30 pm.

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We thought we would be facing our competitive region team Enterprise (seventh seed) but they got knocked out of their first game by Waterford (10th seed). We were actually really nervous to play this team we didn’t know much about. They had some players with some impressive stats and had just knocked out a higher seed. In the first game, Bundy and Cutler both brought one serving ace each. Fenus had impressive receive passing and digging. Bateman had five kills, Orton had three and Bundy had a stuff block. Second set Bundy had three aces, Fenus three, Cutler and Gilberg one each. Bateman, Orton and Bundy all had two kills and Houston one. Houston led this set with five digs.

In the third and final set we brought a great serve with Houston, Bundy, Cutler, McQuivey and Kennedy Clark all bringing ace serves. Bateman and Orton led with three kills each and Hadley Barnson added a nice kill and solo block of her own.

The Kanab High School Volleyball team and their coaches stand proudly around their State trophy, still buzzing with adrenaline and excitement. Photo courtesy of KHS Volleyball parents.

Ending scores were 25-19, 25-15 and 25-12. Gilberg led this set with four digs. The team just got the momentum and ran with it, keeping the other teams score lower with each set. It was a fun ending with Clark’s ace serve to seal the deal!

Two wins on Friday placed Cowboys in the semi-final game at noon against last year’s foe that took them down in the State game. This was going to be part of the Cowboys “Unfinished Business” they wanted to finish. The Cowboys faced off with them in a tournament two weeks earlier and knew this was going to be a tough game. North Summit third seed) had been the reigning State champs five out of the last six years in 2A. They have a dedicated coach who has built a winning program - but the cowboys were determined to beat them for a second time this year to earn a ticket to advance us to the state game!

Cutler broke out a serving run with seven in a row, including one ace. Gilberg had a great serve receive run to set up great hitting opportunities for her teammates. Orton led the first game with four kills. Bateman and Houston brought two kills each. Bundy shut their best hitter down again with five blocks in just this set. Houston and Orton added two blocks each and Barnson one. The ending score was 25- 20. McQuivey and Fenus led in digs, and Cutler and Houston both put up multiple great assists. First set ended with a score of 25-20.

In the second set, Houston and Cutler both pushed top serves and two aces a piece. Orton and Bundy had three kills each. Fenus had great serve receives and McQuivey led in digs. We rolled this game out really well for a comfortable lead of 25-16 – but you can never get too comfortable in this sport.

In the next set North Summit made some lineup adjustments and came back at us hard. The braves didn’t let anyone get on serving runs, so it slowed the game down for us. Orton led with three kills. Little had two kills and two blocks. All of our passers did a great job on serve receive, but we came up short and the score ended 18-25 for the Braves.

The fourth set started and Cowboys adjusted their line up back to match North Summits. Fenus had an almost perfect defensive game. She set offense up with top rated passes and digs. Orton led in kills with five out of eight successful swings. Bateman added three kills and Barnson added two, one being her smart placed side tip.

The Cowboys set a new personal team best with 21 blocks as a team total in all over the four sets. That is an amazing feat and block party going on. The score settled in at 25-19 and this big win meant the cowboys were headed to the Championship match. Yay!

The 2A Championship game was scheduled for 8 p.m., on Saturday night at the SVC. There were definitely some hours to pass before we would play for the 2A state title. Seniors and captains were invited to a meeting with the other 1A and 2A contenders, officials and management to discuss pre-game plans. Meanwhile many great Kanab fans decided to travel up to Richfield for a live seat to cheer our team on.

The team gathered at an Airbnb to enjoy some downtime and relax. Our team prepared together and then headed back to watch some of the 1A championship game of Panguitch vs. Rich. Then the time had finally come to play our championship game. Our team walked through the fog and lights and were introduced with a spotlight.

The crowds were all cheering their hearts out for their home team while sporting glow sticks and cowboy style bandanas. Parowan was the home team and they did get to pick the side they wanted to be on. They chose the one with the most serving room and farthest from the rowdy crowd on their side. However, we did get the coin toss and would be serving first. Kanab started out really strong and played some great ball. Our outside hitters both got warmed up and had four kills each. Cutler and Barnson both added a kill. Barnson also had a nice solo block. Fenus led in digs and Gilberg had one serving ace for the first set. The final score was 25-23 for the Cowboys.

It felt really great to come out and get the first set win. The second set didn’t go our way though as the Parowan Rams came back with big blocks and stole the game’s momentum. Our highlights were: Cutler with five digs; Houston had top serve receive ratings; and Orton led with three kills. Cutler and Houston had three assists each. The highlight of this match is when Little (a freshman!) came in off the bench with great fire and got two big kills, one bouncing off of the other team’s biggest player’s head. This set’s score ended 25-16.

The third set went pretty fast too. Houston led with three great digs. Orton had two kills, Bundy two and Bateman one. Cutler and Houston had a total of nine assists this set. The Cowboys lost momentum and Parowan had studied our team’s lineup and put up a good block against our hitters. Balls were dropping on defense that don’t usually drop. We could feel our team getting down and discouraged. Our team wasn’t playing their best game. The lights, pressure and crowds can be a little overwhelming. The score of this set ended 25-13.

We were pretty happy with our girls as they bounced back and fought to have a good fourth set. We had a good run and even had a five-point lead in the beginning of the game. Houston and Fenus both brought ace serves. Orton had five kills and Bateman three. Fenus, Gilberg and McQuivey stepped it up on defense. Orton got a big block assisted by Barnson towards the end of the game that brought our crowd to their feet and kept us in the game till the end. Our rowdy crowd, hometown fans and cheerleaders did an amazing job cheering us on. We are so grateful to them for all the support throughout the year.

We are a little heartbroken. When you talk about a goal everyday together as a group you are pretty invested in seeing it through. We had really hoped to bring the first-place title home for the first time to Kanab, but are proud of so many victories that happened throughout the season. We have seen a lot of growth from all the girls on our team as they have worked individually and collectively to better their team and individual skills. They put the WE before the ME and served outside themselves on and off the court. They can all hold their heads high as we focus on just a few of so many of the positive facts that happened this year.

We did have an amazing overall season record of 25-6. This team did take down North Summit, last year’s reigning state champs (part of last years unfinished business). Our Cowboy team has beaten every 2A team they have played this year along with many bigger schools even (3A, 4A and 5A teams). Our only losses came from 3A and 4A teams that we went five sets with most of them. We were the only team in the state to take down the undefeated Parowan Rams (two times) this year. We beat them at the Richfield Ruckus tournament this summer and also pretty good in three sets on our home court. We have officially split with the Rams on head to head match-ups; two wins a piece this season. We would really like to request a fifth and final reset playoff game for the state title as we truly believe our team would get the win this time. Kanab will definitely be a contender for next year’s title.

Overall, we do feel like it has been a very successful year. Our home town crowd is the biggest attendance we have ever seen. We are proud to be part of this Cowboy family community! Thanks again for all those who cheered us on; you will always have our love and support back.

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