Panguitch claims 1A volleyball title over Piute

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OREM — The Panguitch Bobcats finished what they started last season in record-breaking fashion.

"It feels phenomenal," said senior outside hitter Breanne Bateman after the Bobcats defeated region rival Piute for their second consecutive state title, 25-15, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16.

As important to Panguitch as the state championship was finishing the season unbeaten. Their two-year streak now stands at 69 matches without a loss.

"It's a once in a lifetime thing," said Bateman of winning two titles without a loss.

It takes a special team to win that many games without a hiccup or bad day.

"It's unreal," said head coach Troy Norris of the camaraderie displayed for two seasons by the talented team. "You don't experience that very often."

Norris' daughter, Kalani, is the team's superstar and reigning 1A MVP. The UVU-bound senior needed six kills to break the single-season kill record and she earned 36 kills in the match. She already holds the career kill record.

Despite the fact Panguitch's offense seems to consist of putting it in the air and letting Kalani put it away, the team hasn't had any chemistry problems.

"I haven't heard one single complaint from anyone," said Troy Norris. "The girls like to win; they like to succeed."

Bateman said the girls genuinely care for each other.

"Our team loves each other so much," said Bateman, who added 12 kills in the win. "And we have the most amazing coaches."

She said the other players don't resent Kalani; they respect her because she respects them.

"We know Kalani can put it away," said Bateman. "She also knows that we're her team. She couldn't do it without us."

To earn their second consecutive title, they had to beat another superstar leading another talented team. Senior Kandice Gleave displayed awesome power in her hitting and led Piute defensively by hustling and digging balls with seemingly endless energy. Gleave finished with 17 kills and junior Chelsie Sylvester added 7 kills. Megan Jensen finished with 29 assists.

"With Panguitch you have to be able to play great defense, you have to block them and you have to go back at them hard," said Piute head coach Sherida Allen. "We had moments of greatness."

And while moments weren't enough to do what no team has been able to do in 69 matches, Allen praised her squad that won a five-set thriller against second-ranked Rich earlier Friday.

"That's a great group of girls," Allen said of her team as it accepted the second-place trophy. "Where it matters, they're the best. They leave it all out on the floor, especially this morning against Rich."

She said they were tired from the emotional win, but that wasn't why they couldn't muster a second upset.

Allen also praised Gleave.

"She's our leader," said the coach. "She brings a lot of energy to our game. We expect a lot out of her and she usually never disappoints us."

Panguitch's road to the final match went smoothly as it swept fourth-ranked St. Joseph's 25-5, 25-13, 25-8, while Piute battled Rich to win 25-22, 25-23, 18-25, 23-25, 15-12.

Rich finished third with a win over St. Joseph's in consolation play. The loss meant the Jayhawks earned fourth place. Monticello earned fifth place with a win over Monument Valley, which was seventh. Christian Heritage swept Wayne for sixth place, while the Badgers took eighth place.

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Amy Donaldson


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