|Morgan Warburton flips the ball over her head backward in a pivotal play during game four of the Carbon's state championship match with Morgan on Saturday night. Plays like this one won Warburton the most valuable player of the tournament award, and the team the state championship they have been looking for for years.|
A few years ago, Carbon volleyball coach Bruce Bean took a team of friends, family and doctors to the big game and beat a life threatening disease.
Saturday night he took a team of 15-18 year old girl volleyball players, with a community behind him, and vanquished another nemesis, the championship game jitters, as the team won the 3A state trophy 3-1.
"I can't believe we've done finally done this," he said as he stood there, being hugged by his assistant coaches and players alike. "After all these years."
Bean led a team into the finals that had taken apart their preseason opponents, their league and every game they had played in the state playoffs without skipping a beat. This team had not lost a set all year long, in fact they had not lost one match.
But in the championship game, they would find the highs and the lows of the whole season in the confines of one hour. They may have beat Morgan in the final set, but the team from up north, winners of five of the last seven state 3A championships, was no pushover, and they proved it in the first two games of the contest.
Morgan came out with thunder in their hands as they served the ball time and time again and the digs and the bumps the Lady Dinos countered with just couldn't handle the spins. Balls bounced left and right, everywhere but forward.
It seemed like time was reverting back to 2001 and 2002, when the heavily favored Lady Trojans took the championship away from the Carbon girls within the confines of the same arena in three straight games.
But still something was different here. While the huge and noisy Carbon crowd was subdued by the assault, some of the girls on the Carbon bench and court looked panic stricken, Bean sat there with a smile on his face. He called a time out at 4-8, another at 6-14 and still another at 11-20, when things looked their worst.
Carbon rallied at that point and the game ended 19-25, much less desparate than it could have been. The Lady Dinos had showed themselves, despite their first game lost in the season, they could come back on this legendary state volleyball power. Starting the second game, the crowd didn't know it, but there was a sense of more confidence on the court than had been there in the three previous years of championship game competition.
Again Morgan started off strong. They blew out to a 1-6 lead, which expanded to a 6-11 lead. Suddenly the wicked serves that had given their Morgan masters such an edge began to subside as the girls from Carbon found their form. Bean called a time out, spoke to the girls whose faces were definitely set in game face, and sent them back to the court. He smiled as he sent them off to do battle.
Suddenly a rallied appeared and Carbon moved closer; 9-11, then 11-12, falling back a bit to 12-14. Finally they took over and tied it at 15-15. It was like the Lady Trojans had never seen anyone do that before and then Carbon took the lead.
|Carbon football coach Lane Herrick hugs his daughter Brooke, as the championship celebration on the court rages behind them.|
No one is even sure if another team had ever held a lead on Morgan this year, but it was obvious they didn't like the feeling.
They came back hard, but Carbon held the lead until it was 23-23. Carbon upped the ante to 24-23, then Morgan tied. Carbon then went up and held on for a 26-24 win.
That win could be described in many ways, but sweet is the best description, because Carbon had never even defeated Morgan in a game in previous championship bouts. This time was definitely different.
It was like someone turned on the tap full blast. Carbon came out in game three hammering the previously unbeaten Lady Trojans 5-1 to begin the game. Then it went on to key points in the game until it was 12-5 and it looked like Carbon would run away with it.
Suddenly, Morgan started to rally and up their score dramatically while the Lady Dinos were only able to muster three points. The result, a shaky 18-15 lead for the Carbon team. But the confidence from the first of the game came back and they began to pour it on again, and reaching a final conclusion of 25-21, beating the Morgan crew by two points more than in the last game.
Carbon was now up 2-1 and they knew the pressure was on. Bean gave them a positive pep talk on side court while everyone braced for what could be the final game of the season in the stands.
But things reversed on the Lady Dinos. This time they came out flat and Morgan took advantage. With a 1-5 score in just a couple of minutes, it appeared a fifth game seemed imminent. But things change quickly in volleyball and suddenly Carbon came alive, moving to 5-7 and then tying the game at 7-7.
From there it bantered back and forth to 11-11. It was then that Morgan Warburton made a move that made the crowd go nuts. The ball was served by Morgan and it was a straight shot. The back row handled it, but it shot forward, Warburton held her hands up, leaned backwards, went 360 degrees and the ball flipped over the edge of the net, bouncing on the opponents side of the floor. That was the breaking point. From then on it was all Carbon as they took command the rest of the way down the stretch.
When it got to 24-21 it looked good for Carbon, but the dangerous Lady Trojans were still in the hunt. However, Carbon returned the ball to the side of the court and Morgan couldn't handle it; the ball bounced off into the blackness around the center court at the McKay Center at Utah Valley State College.
The game was over, the season was over and the crusade to end the victory drought was over. People streamed onto the court and the girls were mobbed by adoring relatives and fans.
Warburton was selected as tournament MVP, a testimony to her play throughout the year, but particularly in this final game as she finished with 17 kills and 12 blocks. Other big seniors for the team were Monica Shorts who did many perfect sets despite the imperfect setting Morgan allowed, and Courtney Young who had nine kills. Junior Jamie King came through big too with 13 kills.
It must have been profound news for all the women that have gone through the program for the last four years. Many are now playing volleyball and basketball at the collegiate level, and they all share a part of this because they built the legacy on which this team stood.
It was a night to remember for everyone, and particularly for Bean, his staff and the girls that made up the 2004 Dino State 3A Champion volleyball squad.