The Valley Buffalos volleyball team faced off with their Milford Tigers counterparts there on Wednesday, October 4, in which the Freshman squad won in three-straight [25- 14, 25-6, 15-6] and the JVs similarly lost by the harrowing narrowest of margins [23-25, 24-26, 13-15]. Yet the Varsity, roused from the opening frame’s sleeper, returned with a vengeance to ultimately take the 3-1 match [20-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-17].
Left to right, photos by Jerry Melrose:
Julia “JuJu” Hoyt with a jubilant fist-pump after tying their fourth-set run at 14 leading to their 25-20 finale!
Setter Rachel Cox (#1) receiving the all-smiles admiration of her Varsity teammates after her somersaulting floor-burning save to keep the volley alive closing in on their match-winning fourth-set drive. Surrounding her are (l-r): Libero (in white jersey) Lydia Cox, Julia Hoyt, Shayne Jacobs, Raigen Frost and Kimber Reeve.
Annabelle “Annie” Leyland leaping for the joy of the game in front of the Tigers’ hometown fans with a graceful dink over the net.
“We did well,” said Head Coach Harmony Cox summing it up. “We had some good sets. The first set: we changed our rotation just a little bit, made some adjustments. And then, we had some sickness. We didn’t have time to go over it very thoroughly; so, we made some changes. Anyway, some mistakes threw us off a little bit, and our rotation. And we got it figured out, and it was fine. So, we’re looking forward to moving on and getting better at it some.”
“It was really good!” agreed feisty firebrand setter Rachel Cox. “We started off really rough. We just got into a new rotation, and it was pretty ugly, we ended up losing a set. But we talked about it, and we figured it out; and then we bounced right back. And it’s hard to make a difference when you’re not on the court. But I talked to Lindsey [Franklin], a freshman who was going in for me. And I told her, ‘Hey, you’re good; you can make a difference!’ Talked to Athelie [Neilsen], and told her what worked for me when I was in. And she went in and made a difference! And everyone rose a little bit more. We held off to win in four.”
Currently, with a 7-3 in-league record, they’ve steadily maintained their season long 3rd-place ranking in 1A Region 20 behind the undefeated Panguitch Bobcats [3 sets-0], and the Piute Thunderbirds [3-1]. Their only other loss was at the 2A Beaver Beavers [3-1]. “The season ... it’s ups and downs,” Rachel amplifies. “Our record isn’t the best, but we played a bunch of hard teams. We went to the Dixie Tournament, and got a bunch of good playing. But, as of right now we’re looking 10th in the RPI [Rating Percentage Index] and I think we’re sitting fine in the [State Tournament seeding] Bracket. And I think if we can continue to just keep doing what we’ve been doing, at State, we’ve got it!
The Buffalos’ remaining schedule consists of encounters with Piute at home on Wednesday, October 11, as well as in the Piute Varsity Tournament on 13-14th at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield. The State Tournament begins in earnest on Saturday, October 21, with the First Round at home sites, prior to the Finals at Utah Valley University on October 27-28.
With their concentration now on the homestretch, junior Annabelle Leyland shares the team’s ever optimistic mindset eyeing the future following an after school session in the gym, “We’re tweaking everything in practice, you know. We just had our Varsity practice that went 30 minutes longer. And we’re really focusing on stats, and where our team works best. We’re really putting people at their strengths. We’re really fine-tuning; we’re getting hard work-outs in. And these next few weeks are really going to make a difference.”