CEDAR CITY— Parowan and Panguitch high schools captured the respective 2A and 1A state girls volleyball championships on Saturday.

Playing at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center in Orem, both the Rams and the Bobcats won two playoff matches on Friday and two more on Saturday to earn their first-place trophies.

Parowan caps off perfect 29-0 season

The Rams, who won the school’s first volleyball state title last year, went the entire 2023 season undefeated, winning 87 sets in their 29 matches and only dropping eight. Twenty-two of Parowan’s wins were 3-0 sweeps. The only five-set match the Rams played was a 3-2 home win over Canyon View on Aug. 24.

Parowan head coach Macey Yardley told Cedar City News on Monday that while her team had been able to slip “under the radar” relatively unnoticed last season, “This year, it was like a huge target on our back.”

However, she added, “We just constantly preached to them that it was all about playing one game at a time and just work to get better every day.

Parowan volleyball players huddle before a match at the 2A state tournament, Orem, Utah, Oct. 28, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Parowan High Athletics, St. George News / Cedar City News

“We never put pressure on them that they needed to stay undefeated. We told them to expect to lose and just to know that was a normal part of the growth process.”

As it turned out, however, the Rams just kept on winning.

Parowan, which headed into the tournament as the No. 1 seed, swept both Wasatch Academy and San Juan on Friday. Then, in Saturday morning’s semifinals, the Rams defeated No. 4  North Summit, also by a 3-0 score (25-21, 25-18, 25-15).

That set up Saturday afternoon’s state championship match against Region 18 rival Kanab, the tournament’s No. 2 seed.

Although the Rams had beaten the Cowboys twice during the regular season, Yardley said they didn’t want to be overconfident with the state championship on the line.

“We told the girls, we know Kanab, we know what they have on the other side of the net,” Yardley said. “We can’t make this about being against Kanab. We’ve got to take charge of what’s on our side of the net and just play our game and not get super emotional.”

Parowan won the first two sets of the title match, 25-17, 25-21, after which the Cowboys rallied to capture the third set, 25-20.

It was then that junior Paige Felder and her teammates really stepped up, Yardley said.

“She’s a beast and literally unstoppable,” Yardley said of Felder. “She took over in that fourth set. We couldn’t quite get the mojo going to get it done in the third set, so she just took over and was not about to let (Kanab) have a chance at a fifth set.”

Parowan rolled to a decisive 25-12 win in the fourth set to clinch the title.

Parowan volleyball players and coaches pose with the 2A state championship trophy, Orem, Utah, Oct. 28, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Parowan High Athletics, St. George News / Cedar City News

Felder ended the match with a team-high 22 kills, while fellow junior Taylen Yardley, the coach’s daughter, added nine kills. The formidable duo finished the tournament with more than 100 kills combined, with Felder making 75 and Yardley adding 32. Yardley also had 11 service aces and 42 digs over the playoffs, while Felder added seven aces.

Coach Yardley listed several other key contributors for the Rams, including the team’s four senior players: Layni Williams, Maddie Adams, Saydee Jensen and Addi Guymon. Adams had 54 digs during the tournament, including 21 in the title game, while Guymon and Natalie Anderson combined for 19 blocks over the weekend. Anderson, a junior, recorded 10 kills and five blocks in the title game.

Yardley also noted that Williams, the team’s primary setter, made a total of 131 assists during the tournament, including 40 against Kanab.

“Layni was definitely a key contributor,” Yardley said. “She defended really well and did a super good job of keeping the ball in great locations for our hitters.”

Sunday afternoon, Parowan residents celebrated along Main Street as the volleyball team members were honored with the traditional champions’ fire truck ride.

“There were a good number of community members, a lot of them fresh from church in their nice, fancy outfits,” Yardley said.

Following the procession, the players, coaches and fans gathered in celebration around the ram statue in front of the school to sing the school song and take pictures with the trophy.

The Parowan Rams are a force to be reckoned with! Huge congrats on claiming their 2nd straight @MountainAmerica 2A State Volleyball Championship! pic.twitter.com/DfRGWrZJo7

— UHSAA (@UHSAAinfo) October 29, 2023

Panguitch wins school’s 9th volleyball title, 1st since 2019

In the 1A classification, top-seeded Panguitch swept all four of its tournament games by 3-0 scores, defeating Bryce Valley and Manila on Friday, followed by No. 4-seeded Wendover on Saturday morning.

Panguitch volleyball players and coaches celebrate with 1A state championship trophy, Orem, Utah, Oct. 28, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Sarah Griffin, St. George News / Cedar City News

That set up the title game against No. 3 seed Rich on Saturday afternoon, with the Bobcats again winning all three sets, 25-21, 25-21, 25-16.

Leading the way for Panguitch in the title game was senior Tabetha Henrie, who recorded 12 kills, 16 digs and five service aces for the Bobcats.

“Tabi was definitely the MVP,” Panguitch head coach Troy Norris told Cedar City News afterward. “She really came to play. She hit well, but she passed extremely well. I felt that our passing was the difference in the championship game – we passed and served a lot better than they did.”

Remarkably, it was the second state championship that Henrie had helped Panguitch win within the space of five days. Last Tuesday, Henrie won the 1A girls cross-country state championship race in Salt Lake City, leading the Bobcats to their fourth straight state title.

Norris called his volleyball team “very well-rounded.”

“We didn’t have a weak rotation,” he said. “We do everything pretty well: passing, setting, digging, serving … and probably the thing I’m most proud of as a coach is that we’re able to play so many girls. We had 11 girls play in the state championship game and they all contributed mightily. We’ve just got a lot of depth.”

Panguitch’s four seniors are Henrie, Madelyn Frandsen, Kaetlynn Poulsen and Janessa Heaton.

The win marked Panguitch’s ninth-ever state volleyball championship and its first since 2019.

Panguitch held its celebratory parade and fire truck ride when the team bus arrived back in town late Saturday night. On Monday afternoon in the school’s gymnasium, the players and coaches were honored during a student assembly.

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