By Nathaniel Smith • The Times-Independent
The Grand County High School volleyball team split its first two home games, falling to Emery on Aug. 28 and defeating Richfield on Aug. 30. After the pair of regional matchups, the Red Devils are 2-2 on the season.
Before the game on Tuesday, Aug. 28, the family of the late Terry Page presented checks totaling $12,000 to four different GCHS activities. The football and volleyball teams received $4,000 each and the cheer squad and marching band were each given $2,000. The money was raised at the second annual Terry Page Memorial Golf Tournament.
Despite playing hard, Grand fell to Emery in three straight sets. For their first game in front of a hometown crowd, the Red Devils stumbled out of the gate, allowing the Spartans to grab an 8-2 lead in the opening set.
After a timeout, Grand was refocused and got a side-out to end Emery’s streak. With a couple of ace serves from sophomore Grace Johnston and kills courtesy of senior Corteney Noyes and sophomore Jaci Shumway, Grand tied the set at 12 points apiece.
Sophomore Jessica Jones drove home a spike, giving the Red Devils the lead and forcing Emery to call a timeout. Grand kept pushing, growing the lead to five with a score of 19-14. The set seemed within Grand’s grasp, but Emery rallied, scoring nine unanswered points before taking the set 25-21.
The second set was tightly contested as the Spartans and Red Devils traded the lead back and forth. An ace from Kiera Shumway followed by a block by Noyes gave the Red Devils a 12-9 lead, but Emery came surging back to tie the set with three straight scores. After trading a few points, a pair of back-to-back kills from sophomore Jessica Jones put Grand up 16-15, though that was the last time the Red Devils were ahead in the set. Noyes scored a couple more kills, but a few defensive errors by Grand allowed Emery to claim the set by a five-point margin.
Jaci Shumway started the third set with an ace and Emery responded with a kill and a few aces of its own. Grand fought out to a 7-6 lead, but then the Spartans went on a five-point run. An ace from Johnston, a kill from Jones and a block by Noyes helped the Red Devils to close the gap and tie the set at 14.
An errant serve from Grand gave the Spartans a side-out, which sparked an 8-3 run that gave Emery a lead it wouldn’t surrender. Two hits from Grand that could’ve turned the tide landed barely out of bounds, but the Red Devils kept playing valiantly with a kill by Jones and an ace by Johnston that brought Grand within two points. Emery called a timeout with the scoreboard reading 22-20. At set point, Grand was only one score behind and serving, but Emery was able to finish the game when Grand tipped the ball out of bounds.
After the game, Coach Brittney Melton expressed her appreciation for the supportive crowd. She also thanked the family of Terry Page for the generous donation. Melton said the team would need to work on passing and serving before the Thursday contest against the Richfield Wildcats.
Though there was only a single day to practice, the Red Devil volleyball team had a much better showing at the second home game. Grand jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the first set, but Richfield quickly tied the score at four. A pair of kills from Noyes combined with a few errors on Richfield’s end put Grand up 9-4 and caused Richfield to call a timeout. The Red Devils kept up the attack, pushing the lead to eight with a score of 13-5. From there, the set went downhill for Grand. A number of kills and aces allowed Richfield to tie the set at 17. The first set was reminiscent of the previous game as Grand gave up an early lead and faltered in the final stretch. The Wildcats claimed the first set with a score of 25-21.
The second set started rough as Richfield got out to a 5-1 lead. Things were looking dire, but scores from senior Kay Watson and Noyes compounded Wildcat mistakes to give Grand a 7-6 advantage. From there, the set began going the Red Devils’ way. Noyes racked up another kill, Kiera Shumway got an ace and Noyes and sophomore Kendyll Cox teamed up on a block to push Grand out to a 14-7 lead as Richfield called a timeout. The Red Devils didn’t let up on the pressure. Kiera Shumway made a great diving dig to set up her sister Jaci for a score. Jaci Shumway scored twice more to put the Red Devils up by 10, 21-11. Noyes and Jones each got a kill to finish the set 25-13, ahead by an impressive 12-point margin.
With a set each, Grand and Richfield lined up for a third round. The Wildcats took the advantage early, going ahead 10-6. But then Grand snatched the lead with a five-point run that included Cox scoring a kill and Kiera Shumway landing another ace serve, and concluded with Noyes spiking the ball home. Noyes scored on consecutive ace serves to keep the Red Devils going as the set tied at 14. At that point, Jones stepped up and took over the game. She had poured on four kills and an ace when Richfield called a timeout, behind 22-18. Jones scored another ace before Grand claimed the set 25-20.
The Red Devils were looking confident and upbeat as they took the court to try and finish the game. Scores from Jaci Shumway, Watson and Jones helped Grand get out to a 4-2 lead. Grand carried the lead deeper into the set as Noyes recorded two kills and teamed up with Cox for a block while Jaci Shumway added three more scores of her own, putting the Red Devils up 12-7. Richfield made one last push. A long exchange ended with Grand knocking the ball out to tie the set at 14, so coach Melton called a timeout. From there, the game was all red. Grand rallied for nine straight points, with Noyes and sophomore Morgan Lewis both recording kills and Jones adding two aces. Up 23-14, Grand coasted to the finish. Noyes scored her final kill of the game and a Richfield serve sailed out of bounds to give the Red Devils a 25-18 victory in the last set.
Following the exciting matchup, the volleyball team sang the school song and Melton shared her feelings on the game. “The game was wonderful,” she said, “The team is finally playing together.” Melton noted that a priority of hers has been trying to get the Lady Devils to gel as a team. Hopefully, Grand’s volleyball team will only work together better as the season continues.
Next, Red Devil volleyball will host Monticello for a non-region showdown on Thursday, Aug. 6. The following day, the team will travel to Manti for a game against the Templars, and on Saturday will be in Mt. Pleasant for a matchup with North Sanpete. Fans will want to note the volleyball team’s homecoming game against rival San Juan on Wednesday, Aug. 12.