5A volleyball: Pleasant Grove repeats as state champ

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Orem • Pleasant Grove dug in, dug deep … dug just about everything Bingham threw at it Saturday night.

In the end, the Vikings' ability to extend rallies and keep the ball alive frustrated the Miners and eventually wore down them as Pleasant Grove won its second consecutive Class 5A state volleyball title.

"It's so hard to repeat because you have a target on your back all year long," Pleasant Grove senior setter Brisa Winterton said after the Vikings' 25-17, 25-27, 25-21, 25-17 victory at Utah Valley University's UCCU Center. "It's awesome because we worked so hard to get here and we knew everyone was out to beat us. It just feels so much better."

In a performance worthy of a title bout, the Vikings withstood Bingham's bench challenges again and again. Coach Allyce Jones used timeouts to curtail Miners runs and big swings from senior Rachel Gale, and sophomore Bailey Nixon put exclamation points on the Vikings' season.

"Our girls had to learn to deal with the pressure," Jones said. "We set goals, we look at those goals every single week and our girls achieved every one of those goals."

The upstart Miners, whose starting lineup is mostly juniors and sophomores, won the second set on the right arm of sophomore outside hitter Torre Glasker. But Miner kills were hard to come by, thanks to the quick hands of the Vikings.

The Vikings amassed 86 digs in the match, including 25 from Brooklyn Bodily. Gale had a match-high 23 kills, Nixon had 14 kills and Madison Wolford added 13 kills for the Vikings.

"We worked a ton on defense this year," said Winterton, who finished with 45 assists. "We were the No. 1 offensive team in the state, and we wanted to be the No. 1 defensive team in the state as well. We are so much better on defense than we were last season."

Pleasant Grove became the first team since Lone Peak in 2007-08 to win back-to-back 5A tittles. The Vikings' six 5A titles are the most of any current 5A team. Skyline, currently in Class 4A, also has six 5A titles.

Bingham coach Melissa Glasker said she sees this year's tournament experience as a springboard for the 2014 season.

"We really wanted it this year," coach Glasker said. "I think we're going to come back with a vengeance. They've seen it, I've tasted it. We're gonna want to come back." —

5A volleyball championship Pleasant Grove 3, Bingham 1

R Pleasant Grove joins Lone Peak (2007-08) and Viewmont (2003-04) to repeat as 5A state champion over the past 11 years.

• Rachel Gale has a match-high 23 kills, and the Vikings amass 86 digs — 25 by sophomore Brooklyn Bodily.