|Carbon’s Brittany Pollastro (12) and Traci Mortensen (11) go up for the ball as Wasatch’s Hillary Davis (1) watches the action in Friday’s first round state game.|
The story books and all our fantasies say it wasn’t supposed to be this way. When a team gets beat out one year for a title and comes back to a championship round the next, it seems it should be their turn. They should get the glory of winning it all. The old saying goes, “fairy tales do come true. ”
But for the Carbon girls varsity volleyball team, that fairy tale season ended not with Cinderella getting the glass slipper, but instead, by watching it put on someone elses foot. For the second year in a row, the Morgan Lady Trojan volleyball team defeated the kids from Carbon County 15-12, 15-10 to win the 3A state title at Utah Valley State College on Friday night before thousands of fans from both schools.
Both teams had undefeated regular seasons (although Morgan was defeated only a few weeks ago by 1A super power Rich High, probably the best team in the state, bar none). Both ripped through their state brackets, although Carbon did not have its best games of the year in either of Thursday’s matches. By Friday, however, they were in fine form and almost everyone thought they had a much better than even chance to dethrone the up-to-then three time champion.
The tournament began mid-afternoon with the Lady Dinos facing Wasatch High. In the first game Wasatch was ready and the Dinos seemed a little listless. Wasatch went ahead 6-2 and the Lady Wasps sensed they may have a chance to defeat a storied program.
However, the Warburton, sisters Morgan and Chelsey, Brittany Pollastro and Danielle Julian, along with the others on the team decided they didn’t want out in the first round and came back scoring eight straight points and then finishing off the Wasps 15-11 in the first game. The second game was almost a moot point, as Carbon dominated the Wasatch County team. The Lady Wasps seemed to lose all semblance of order as the Carbon kids spiked them into the losers bracket.
With that behind them the team looked to the next contest with the familiar Snow Canyon Warriors, a team that had knocked them out of the first round two years ago. While some of the faces on both teams were the same, many were different. However the history of the two girls programs seem intertwined every season, not only in volleyball but also in basketball where many of the same kids play each other.
So that was the temperament as the two teams faced each other on Thursday night, and it proved to be a classic Snow Canyon-Carbon event, as the underdog Lady Warriors put up a tremendous fight after losing the first game 15-10 to the Carbon team. That second game was an aberration on the Carbon slate this year, not only because it was one of the few game losses they have had, but because it is the only one that was lopsided since preseason play began. The Lady Warriors took the game 6-15 and seemingly had the momentum going into the final and deciding contest.
But champions come in all forms even if they don’t win a title and Carbon came roaring back to hold on with a back and forth game with the Washington County crew. At 14-14 Carbon surged ahead to finally take the game 16-14. It was another classic Snow Canyon-Carbon struggle and just added another chapter to what is sure to be more deciding contests in the future considering the way the brackets seem to fall between Region 8 and Region 9 each year.
|Fans hugged players as Cami Carlson, assistant coach and Bruce Bean, head coach at Carbon, high five fans in the stands after Carbon beat Union on Friday to qualify for that nights championship match against Morgan.|
The next contest was at high noon on Friday. Carbon coach Bruce Bean was confident that his team could beat the surging Union Cougars who had gone undefeated all year, except for a preseason loss to Carbon earlier this fall.
“We beat them earlier in the year, I’ m pretty sure we can do it again,” he said as he watched the Dinos warm up.
He was right. The Union squad had survived a strong challenge from Region 8’s Delta the day before (7-15,15-10,15-5) in the first round and then trumped Bear River who had played Morgan tough in region play this year 15-9 and 15-11 on Thursday night. But the Dinos were really a different animal from anything they had faced in either the Rabbits or the Bears. The Carbon girls cut deep right from the beginning and the Lady Cougars never had a chance as they crushed the Roosevelt team 15-11 and 15-8.
The end of the game was extremely emotional, and it took the Carbon teams some time to be able to put the final points to win on the board, largely because they wanted that trip to the finals once again so badly. When the game ended the team jumped up and down and the fans went nuts. Team members ran into the stands and hugged friends and family. They all knew that they would be getting another chance at Morgan in the championship game that night, even though the Lady Trojans still had to qualify against an undefeated Hurricane team (which they did an hour later with a 15-3 and 15-5 shellacking of the Lady Tigers).
So there it was again. The matchup all 3A volleyball aficionados had been waiting for since last year. All the fanfare of a championship game. A tremendous ovation for the academic all staters introduced just before the match (including Carbon’s Janelle Bruno, the only one of the group who was actually on one of the championship round teams). The crowd filled the middle section and the sides of the Mackay Center. Interestingly, while Morgan supporters live in what is considered to be a Wasatch Front community, most of them had to drive a few miles farther to get to the game than those from Carbon County.
In some ways the games were similar to last years championship match. Morgan came out tough right from the beginning taking the lead. But the difference this year is that Carbon wasn’t shocked by this. At that point last year, Carbon’s team had never faced anything like the Morgan juggernaut and it showed. Many of the same faces on the Carbon squad that a year ago were white at the shock of the onslaught, this year were confident and steadfast. And it showed in their play too.
Morgan had gone up 6-1 and it looked too much like Carbon was headed down the tubes, but work by the team as a team brought them back tying the Lady Trojans. But the Morgan squad can never be accused of not being flexible. Pollastro had been so effective at blocking the 2001 champions powerful spike game that they had to alter the way they were hitting. By doing that, they again took the lead and never relinquished it, but Carbon continued to threaten getting close right up to the end. At one point the score was 13-12 and it could have gone either way, but in the end it went north toward the Morgan City limits with a 15-12 score.
Carbon knew they were down, but they were more sure they weren’t out. They came out strong in the second game, but Morgan matched their intensity. Again Morgan went up and then Carbon came back and almost would tie it. But this time the Lady Trojans began to get not only strong strikes, but lady luck also smiled on them a couple of times as they were able to save the ball time and time again. At match point, the Morgan team hit a spike that was just impossible for anyone to handle and it was over. The tears ran on both sides of the net; joy on one side, unhappiness on the other. But even this was different from last year. Sadness was prevalent as Carbon High Principal Robert Cox had to once again give the second place trophy to his own schools team, but there was also a sense of accomplishment. The team had played much better in the championship game this year, and the future is bright.
Carbon’s championship run this year was highlighted by the same players that have made this team one of the best in the state this year. During the final match Chelsey Warburton lead the team with seven kills, Morgan Warburton had six, Pollastro had five and Julian had five.
No one can deny this has been a great year for Carbon volleyball. A second place state trophy will sit in the showcase right along side last years. Now the program needs a first place trophy to put between the two.
Nonetheless they are still champions even without the title.