Monument Valley volleyball eighth

It’s pretty impressive that the 2021 Monument Valley volleyball team finished in eighth place in Utah 1A volleyball, considering they didn’t even have a team on the court in 2020.

Their result at the 1A state tournament at Utah Valley University this past weekend is the best among southeastern Utah teams, including San Juan, Grand, Monticello, Green River, and Whitehorse high schools.

The Cougars were the only southeastern Utah team still playing in the final round of their state tournament in 2021.

It was a long, hard road to get there, but they opened the season with a bang. After a year off, the girls started with three straight wins over Navajo Pine, Whitehorse, and Shiprock Northwest.

Though they weren’t able to maintain that torrid pace, for the entire season, they did win five of their next nine games from mid-September to mid-October, including nice wins over St. Joseph and Tintic at a neutral-site tournament.

Monument Valley concluded their regular season with an 8-8 record in tenth place in the 1A RPI standings, good enough to earn them a bye in the play-in round of the state tournament.

In the second round at UVU on Friday, October 29 they met #7 Tabiona. The Tigers proved to be a handful, toppling the Cougars in straight sets 25-17, 25-13, and 25-14.

It’s always tough to bounce back after losing the first game of a tournament after a long day of travel leading up to the event, but Monument Valley was up to the task.

In the sixth-place quarterfinals, MVHS met a very familiar foe, the Whitehorse Raiders, who had lost to Panguitch in their round two matchup.

It was the third meeting between the rivals this season and one final chance to wage war in the Battle of the Drum.

The Cougars made quick work of the Raiders, beating them for the third time in a row, this time in straight sets, 25-13, 25-12, and 25-13.

The following morning, Saturday, October 30 they faced #6 Wendover in the sixth-place semifinals. Again, Monument Valley wasted no time, putting the Wildcats down in straight sets 25-20, 25-18, and 25-15.

So the Cougars had earned the chance to play for sixth place against a scrappy Valley squad that was ranked 13th headed into the tournament.

After the first set, it looked like Monument Valley might go home sixth in the state when they beat the Buffaloes handily 25-15.

But Valley rallied to take the next three sets 25-21, 25-19, and 25-21 in a hard-fought, tight match. Though they didn’t get the win in their final match of the year, it was a very strong showing for the Cougars

It’s a state tournament – and a 2021 season – they can be very proud of. The girls end the year with a 10-10 overall record, a very good achievement after an entire year off.

Incidentally, former Monument Valley Girls Basketball Head Coach Terri James took over as head coach of the volleyball team starting this season.

Though it’s technically her first year at the helm, she’s obviously familiar with the girls from the basketball court, which was a huge benefit for the 2021 team.

The COVID shutdown in 2020 was a major loss for Monument Valley, specifically in the area of varsity experience.

But they overcame that challenge in 2021 and made some noise at the state tournament. It will be exciting to see what the team can do now that they’re back on the court full-time.

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