And the tears flowed freely for Rich coach Cindy Stuart, the architect of the Rebels' program, when a kill by senior Ashley Groll clinched the match at Utah Valley University. Stuart was coach when Rich won its first title in 1988, and has led the program to 15 of its 17 titles.
"It feels great to be back. We've just been having personnel issues for a few years," said Stuart, whose last state title win was in 2008.
Julia Hopkin, a junior who led Rich (26-4) with 23 kills, barely remembered that last championship although the school's history has been ingrained in many around the program.
"I just remember being in the hotel room [in '08], that's about it," Hopkin said.
She knew more about Panguitch, which was seeking its sixth state title in the past 10 years.
"I just knew they were really good and that they were outstanding passers and servers," Hopkin said. "But I had total confidence the whole time."
Hopkin and Groll had more punch from the outside than their opposite, younger numbers for Panguitch as Rich burst to a 23-18 lead in the first set. After Panguitch (24-4) tied at 25 on a kill by Taylia Norris, a pair of kills by Rich's Savannah Peart clinched the set.
Rich had less trouble in winning the second set before Panguitch, which had 13 kills each from Jordan Bennett, McCall Tebbs and Abbey Blevins, bounced back to win the third.
"I thought we played real well. You could always play better, but we battled and that's all you can ask," Panguitch coach Troy Norris said. "They [the Rebels] are just real solid. They always play great defense and they just have good skills."
In a 6-0 run in the fourth set, Rich got some lucky bounces to take the steam out of the defending champs. One point came off a desperate Rebs' stab at a ball that they had hit into the net themselves, and another was registered when Melanie Lamborn pushed a ball into the corner that Panguitch failed to cover.
"We just came together as a team and worked our hardest; we knew we could do it," said Groll, who finished with 14 kills for Rich. "We've been working on this since we were just little."
"I got used to winning, so it's been really hard not to be very good," said Stuart. "I'm a very competitive person, so that's why there's so much emotion to it. We were just so determined that's all it was."
R Rich won its 17th state championship in school history and 15th under coach Cindy Stuart.
• The Rebels got 23 kills from junior Julia Hopkin and 15 from senior Ashley Groll in the title match.
• Panguitch had 13 kills each from McCall Tebbs, Jordan Bennett and Abbey Blevins.
Panguitch def. Duchesne 25-18, 25-22, 25-15
Rich def. Monticello 27-25, 25-15, 25-20
Rich def. Panguitch 27-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19