GCHS head coach Deb Hren said the Lady Devils won the first two sets of the best-of-five match, 25-23 and 25-20.
“Toward the end of the first set we got a side out, and I could see it in [Nikita Nelson’s] eyes during the previous time out [that] she wanted the set to be over,” Hren said. “So she went back and served three straight ace jump serves to win it, 25-23.”
Grand then lost the third set, 21-25, but bounced back to win the fourth and deciding game by the score of 25-20, securing the match victory.
“Even though we lost the third game, we knew that we’d still win [the match],” said Lady Devil player Mikenzee Nelson. “Everybody played good defense.”
Nelson and Carly Dalton added three aces each during that match, while Nikita Nelson had 12 kills and Dalton added nine kills and five solo blocks. Nikita Nelson and Dalton also combined for 15 digs.
Although Grand’s varsity squad beat Monticello, the Lady Devil junior varsity and freshman teams both lost. The freshmen lost three of four games in their match (21-25, 14-25, 15-12, 4-15), while the Lady Devils JV team won its first two sets, only to lose the next three (25-21, 25-18, 10-15, 12-15, 11-15).
Bright spots for the freshmen, according to Hren, included Michelle Lopez’s four blocks and four aces, Symony Call’s four kills and Kylie Haycock’s four digs.
For the JV team, Sydney Lema recorded four solo blocks, Hren said.
“Cammy Beeman kept us in our offense with consistent passing,” she said.
After a successful preseason during which they went 6-2, the Lady Devils varsity squad will begin Region 15 play this week with an away match on Thursday, Sept. 13 at Emery High School in Castle Dale.
“This is the first year we have depth on the bench,” said Hren. “With six seniors, we have our sights set high. These girls have played together for six years.”
Hren spoke highly of the Lady Devil players and their respective strengths.
“Gaby Meyer and Linda Minor are workhorses and are very dedicated to the team,” Hren said. “Linda is a perfectionist and wants every set to be delivered to the hitters’ tastes. Gaby is invaluable to the team as she can play any position needed as we try to counter an opponent’s strengths.”
Hren said Nikita Nelson and Carly Dalton are “definitely the team leaders in overall leadership, defense, passing, and hitting.”
“Nikita has a killer jump serve and Carly serves a tough float,” Hren said.
Another starter, junior Tiffanie Whipple, is “very focused,” according to Hren.
“She keeps getting more consistent on our new ‘hut’ set to the outside,” the coach added.
“Mikenzee Nelson is so constant,” Hren said. “We play so well with her as an outside hitter, as she is very good at keeping the ball in play and picking up kills along the way. She is ‘nails’ when it comes to defense and is developing a nice jump serve.”
Hren also had high praise for the Lady Devils’ deep bench of substitute players, which include senior Kenzie Taysom, junior Jessica Valdes, sophomore Lexi Risenhoover, and Freshman Sydney Lema.
“These girls come in and add some height to our block and attack against some of our tougher opponents,” Hren noted.
Next week, Grand’s first home games of the season will take place on Friday, Sept. 21 against South Sevier. Varsity play starts at 6:30 p.m. The team plays Richfield on Saturday, Sept. 22, with the varsity match scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.
Grand will also host Monticello on Oct. 9 while wearing pink “Swing for Life” jerseys in an effort to raise money in the fight against breast cancer. The team will also be selling off old uniforms, warm-up outfits, and duffel bags at their upcoming home games, Hren said.