Mackay volleyball coach Kashia Hale said dealing with COVID-19 was the longest two weeks of her life.
Along with Hale, the Miners had three players and an assistant coach test positive for the virus early in the season and were shut down for two weeks. On the other side of the net in Saturday’s 1AD2 District 5-6 volleyball championship was defending state champion Watersprings, which was also shut down during the season by the pandemic.
Given the nature of the season, it was probably hard to imagine either team being in championship form with a state tournament berth on the line, but when it was finally over, it was Mackay celebrating with the district trophy after a hard-fought 3-1 win.
“These girls are resilient,” Hale said. “They worked hard. I told them you can do anything during the season but when it matters is at district time and they really turned it on.”
The Miners lost twice to the Warriors during the regular-season, but took commanding leads in every set on the way to a 25-18, 20-25, 29-27, 25-19 victory.
Watersprings was down 17-11 in the second set before rallying for the win, and charged back in the third after trailing 23-19.
But it wasn’t enough against Mackay, which made just about every big play to close out the match.
Hale said the COVID-19 scare changed the mentality of the team.
“I have to play as hard as I can because you may not get another game,” Hale said.
“We told ourselves that this COVID thing’s not going to mess with us,” Trinity Seefried said. “This has been our goal for so long and we’re going to get it this year.”
Seefried finished with 23 kills and 14 digs and Riley Moore added 31 digs.
“This season has been up and down but in the end we pulled it together and got there,” she said.
Along with the virus, injuries forced the Miners to revamp their rotation during the season. Hale noted that it was almost a full rebuilding process after the early two-week shutdown.
Mackay lost to Watersprings twice during the regular season.
“Everybody knew what the goal was,” Seefried said. “Mackay hasn’t won a volleyball state championship and we want to hang a banner.”
Watersprings will also get a shot at another banner. The Warriors rebounded to defeat Leadore 3-1 to earn the second seed out of the conference.
Kaitlyn Syverson had 12 digs and Riley Winkelmann had 12 kills in the match against Mackay.
Mackay opens the state tournament Friday against Tri-Valley at Burley. Watersprings opens with Deary.
More volleyballFirth beat New Plymouth in a 2A state play-in 25-16, 25-19, 17-25, 17-25, 15-5. The Cougars play Bear Lake in the state tournament on Friday at Buhl.