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High school volleyball: Panguitch makes light work of Rich to take 1A state title

For a second straight year, Panguitch and Rich met in the 1A girls volleyball state championship, but this time around it was a different result as the Bobcats topped the Rebels in three sets to earn their first state title since 2019.

Panguitch, the No. 1 seed in the 1A tournament, took home the state trophy by beating the No. 3-seed Rich 25-21, 25-21 and 25-16.

“What a phenomenal bunch of young ladies that I get the privilege of working with every day,” longtime Panguitch head coach Troy Norris said. “They’re amazing. They’re a family. They love each other. They get along.

“The thing that’s special is it’s not just one person. They all have their roles and they all perform them. We dig well, we block well, we hit well, we set well, we pass well, so it’s all of them.”

That teamwork was on full display Saturday at the UCCU Center on UVU’s campus as the Bobcats showed little weakness, a trait on par with the rest of its play this weekend in the state tournament.

Both teams were coming off dominant semifinal sweeps earlier in the day, but Panguitch entered the title match yet to drop a set in the state tournament and ended the day with its perfect performance intact.

Norris pointed to his team’s depth as a reason for its success this season.

“We play 11 girls consistently,” he said. “Not many teams are that deep, especially in 1A, that can play that many girls and not lose a beat.”

The first set saw Panguitch and Rich trade blows in the initial stages before a 7-1 run put the Bobcats ahead by six midway though. The Rebels fought back, coming within one point moments later. However, Panguitch ultimately regained momentum and put Rich away.

The Rebels slowly grew a lead out to six points halfway through the next set but proved unable to hold on to it. The Bobcats came storming back to take the set, outscoring Rich 17-7 to close things out and take a 2-0 game lead.

“It’s that ‘never give up’ mentality,” Norris said of his team’s comeback second set victory. “We had Tabetha (Henrie) back serving and she’s got a heck of a serve and they had a hard time passing her, so that was kind of the catalyst of it.”

Set three remained much closer in the early going with Rich and Panguitch finding themselves tied on six different occasions before the Bobcats again took over down the stretch.

Panguitch flexed its muscles by finishing the match off scoring 16 of the final 23 points. Last year’s state champion had no answer as it watched a new victor get crowned.

A season ago, it was Rich that finished the last contest of the year with the coveted trophy in hand following a grueling five set match. This season, Panguitch got its revenge with little trouble.

That made Saturday’s victory that much more meaningful for the Bobcats.

“We always like beating Rich,” Norris said with a chuckle.

Norris and his team got the last laugh for now and couldn’t be happier.

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