The No. 1 ranked Gunnison Valley High volleyball team went to the 2A state tournament at Utah Valley University this week with hopes of continuing their winning streak.
Unfortunately, the Lady Bulldogs fell in the semifinals to their most intense rivals from the regular season, the North Summit Braves.
That same weekend, Manti and North Sanpete both participated in the 3A state tournament, also held at UVU. While neither team placed in the final standings, North Sanpete walked away with a second-round victory, ironically over Manti, and made an appearance in the one-loss bracket, fighting for fifth place.
In the semifinal game, Gunnison relied heavily on Kennedi Knudsen and choose not to utilize their other hitters; this took a toll on the team and resulted in a difficult loss for the Lady Bulldogs. The set scores were 26-24, 25-22, 17-25 and 25-20 in favor of North Summit.
Knudsen led the team in kills with a season high of 41 and hit .392. Hadlee McDonald led the team with two aces. Raven Pickett led the team in serving percentage with no errors on 22 attempts. Jakelle Sorenson led the team in digs with 17, an individual season high. Aubryann “Bob” Burrell had 47 assists.
Losing to North Summit put the Lady Bulldogs in the match to earn 3rd place against the
South Sevier Rams. The match was a blowout in favor of the Lady Bulldogs. They won 3-0 with the individual set scores of 25-12, 25-19 and 25-13.
The kills for this match were more spread out, with Knudsen still leading the team with 23, but with Chelsi Helms contributing 14 of her own. Jakelle Sorenson led the team with two aces; and Pickett, Burrell and McDonald also contributed one ace. Knudsen also led the team in blocks with three. Kennedi Knudsen and Raven Pickett led the team in digs with a combined 37, dominating the back row. “Bob” Burrell had 38 assists for this match.
Statewide, the Lady Bulldogs did an incredible job and had a definite presence on the stat leaderboard. Kennedi Knudsen was ranked second in the state for hitting percentage with
.303. She also leads the state with 612 kills for the season and 2009 career kills. “Bob” Burrell is ranked 4th in 2A and 7th statewide with 810 assists. Raven Pickett is ranked 4th in the region for aces with 40. She is also ranked 4th in the state for digs with 373.
Gunnison Coach Shanell Knudsen said that she is so proud of her entire team and the amazing success that they had throughout the season.
“Together, we had some amazing accomplishments,” she said. “We had an amazing overall record of 21-4; went undefeated on our home court; claimed the Region 16 title; and earned the No. 1 seed in 2A for the state tournament.”
Coach Knudsen mentioned they dominated the first two rounds. Even though the Lady Bulldogs had beaten North Summit twice in the regular season, going up against them in the semifinals was going to be tough, she knew. As a team they knew that whoever won that semifinal game would go on to win the State Championship.
“Our hearts are still broken that we didn’t get a chance to play in that state championship match,” said Coach Knudsen. “My team can hold their heads high and know that they played their best and fought until the very end.”
Gunnison finished in third place in 2A for the season, an impressive accomplishment in a talent-laden classification of state volleyball.
Of particular note, it was also known that this season would be the last with Coach Knudsen at the helm, a fact she has confirmed, although she has not yet officially stepped down from the position.
“I will miss coaching volleyball for GVHS, and I can’t express how much I love each one of the girls on the team,” said Coach Knudsen. “They will always have a special place in my heart. I wish them all the best in all they go on to do in the future. I’ll always be their biggest cheerleader.”
In the 3A tournament, North Sanpete entered the field ranked No. 6 in 3A RPI, ensuring a first-round bye in the tournament bracket, after the Lady Hawks ended their regular season with a 16-11 overall record, including a second-place finish in Region 14 at 5-3.
Also getting a first-round bye was No. 11 Manti, who finished their regular season 11-14 overall with a 2-6 record and a fifth-place finish in Region 14.
Thanks to the way brackets work, this meant a second-round matchup of the cross-county rivals who had just played each other only eight days prior.
The result was much the same as North Sanpete took down the Lady Templars in four sets, 27-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-15.
As Manti moved to the consolation bracket, North Sanpete moved on to the quarterfinals and were met with a surprisingly good underdog in No. 14. The Lady Wildcats, who had already taken down No. 19 Grantsville and No. 3 Carbon, peaked at the perfect time to bring an unceremonious 3-0 end to North Sanpete’s title hopes, 25-22, 25-23, 25-18.
The Lady Hawks dropped into the one-loss bracket, battling for fifth place, but didn’t get far as they fell immediately to No. 10 Delta in a 3-1 decision, 25-19, 25-13, 20-25, 25-17.
Manti went down in the first round of the consolation bracket to No. 3 Carbon in a 3-0 sweep, 25-21, 25-21, 25-13.