High school volleyball: Timpview earns 5A title

In 2020, Timpview coach Charmay Lee rejoiced with her team as she earned her first state volleyball title as a coach. There was plenty of celebration, but in COVID-19 protocols, there was also a lot that was different.

“The first one was during COVID, so it was a little difficult with spectators,” said Lee. “We couldn’t dog pile, parents couldn’t come see them afterwards, so I really wanted them to feel a real state championship.”

On Saturday night at the UCCU Center, it was a deja-vu dream, but with all the normalcy as before.

The Timpview Thunderbirds rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win the next three sets, holding off a furious Mountain View rally in the final frame and claimed the 5A state girls’ volleyball championship.

“I feel so good!” said senior setter Silina Damunia, who over the tournament weekend set the state records for most assists in a career.

“I feel so good, you can’t even understand!”

Much like 2020, the path to raising the trophy wasn’t easy.

In both seasons, an underdog T-bird team stunned top-seeded Bountiful in the semifinals to reach the championship match. And in both seasons, it was the T-birds knocking off region rival Mountain View 3-1. 

“This is my second championship. It’s sweeter the more you go on and on,” said Lee. Our goal is to be a multi-state championship program.”

Certainly the T-birds are on the right track to accomplishing that goal, adding their fifth volleyball state title to the school’s trophy case.

“This year was identical to 2020. We played Bountiful in the semis, took them to five sets, but this one felt better, especially since it was in the UVU environment. We got to get the whole experience,” Damuni said.

“This is my second championship. It’s sweeter the more you go on and on. Our goal is to be a multi-state championship program.” — Timpview coach Charmay Lee

Unlike 2020, Timpview allowed Mountain View to take the first set. Despite a strong start and leading 15-11, the T-bird offense seemed to have some trouble getting the block up on Mountain View’s hitters. Tied at 18 with the set coming to a close, the Bruins went on a 7-3 run to finish off the T-birds, taking momentum with them to the second set.

“We knew that we’re going up against a really good team, but we knew that we had to fight,” said senior Taliah Lee. “The first set, we kinda got our kinks out, and then throughout the game we got better and better.”

In the second set, the Thunderbirds flipped the switch, grabbing an early lead and never trailing on route to a 25-20 win, tying the match up at one set a piece. Timpview outside hitters Lee and Neriah Perez were crucial for the T-bird attack, with Damuni running the offense like a well-oiled machine. With the Bruins offense experimenting with lots of dump and tip kills, the Timpview defense held firm, with each T-bird defender flying around the court to make the pass.

“Our goal today was to get away from that second set and to make sure that we got rhythm and momentum,” said coach Lee. “We were okay losing the first set because we knew this would be at least four sets for us.”

“That was our team goal, and when we got over that, we were okay.”

The Bruins seemed back to their first set winning ways early in the third set, but the tide quickly turned Timpview’s way. Trailing 3-1, Timpview rattled off six straight points. The Bruins would rally once again to within one at 9-8, but that would be as close as they would get. The Thunderbirds seemingly had an answer for every Mountain View attack, while the Bruins couldn’t contain the heavy hitters, allowing Timpview to reel off a 16-5 run to take the set.

“When we pass the ball, we can put that ball down, and I can run the offense,” said Damuni. “I love my girls, they just passed that ball and made it so easy for me.”

With the season on the line and trailing 18-14, the Bruins mounted another comeback, grabbing a 20-19 lead and sending the large contingent of Mountain View faithful into a frenzy. Tied at 21, a Timpview serve sailed long but hit one of the Mountain View players before landing out of bounds, giving the Timpview crowd a lot to roar about themselves.

A few points later in an almost perfect storybook ending for the outsider hitting senior Lee, a perfectly placed ball headed straight her way, as she slammed the kill onto the court and then dog piled onto her team.

“It means so much because we got co-region champs with them, and I think this kinda set the deal of who is the real champion,” said an extremely happy Damuni.

Teammate and fellow senior Lee couldn’t agree more.

“The ‘bird gang’ is so special. The gym that we work in, the family that we have, the culture that coach Lee has created, it’s so special. Once we trust each other on and off the court, we are unstoppable.”

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