High school volleyball: Timpview tops Ridgeline in return to Thunderdome

Timpview’s 2022 season kicked off in a game against Ridgeline in Provo on Tuesday night. The Thunderbirds took care of business against the Riverhawks to the tune of a 3-0 sweep. Timpview won the sets by scores of 25-17, 25-12 and 26-24.

While the game marked the first of the season for the Thunderbirds, it was the second for the Riverhawks who were defeated in their opener against Skyridge last week.

The pair of schools entered this season with high expectations as two of the top volleyball programs in the state, each winning state titles over the past two years in their respective rankings.

The Riverhawks won the 4A state championship a season ago, while the Thunderbirds won the 5A title in 2020 before being defeated in the state semifinals last year.

The schools have a lot of familiarity with each other. Their coaches, Charmay Lee of Timpview and Jaicee Roden of Ridgeline, coached together for three years.

But the connections don’t end there, as each team is anchored by a pair of senior cousin passers; Silina Damuni for the Thunderbirds and Nia Damuni for the Riverhawks.

Due to construction at Timpview, Tuesday’s meeting with Ridgeline was the Thunderbirds’ first opportunity to play on its home turf this year.

“It’s our first night at the Thunderdome,” Lee said. “We couldn’t even train here. We were thrilled to finally be inside the Thunderdome.

Timpview brought her enthusiasm and energy into the first set, dominating her visitors, leading by as much as 12 points before finishing with an eight point victory. Although they were outscored 5-2 to end the set, the Thunderbirds’ big lead kept the school comfortably in control throughout the stretch.

The following set saw Timpview face their first deficit since 1-2 in the opening set. The Thunderbirds quickly erased the lead, going 20-3 to close things out and take a 2-0 lead. Senior outside hitter Taliah Lee finished the set for the Thunderbirds on a service ace.

“We focused on certain aspects,” Charmay Lee said. “I have top athletes and I just like to challenge them in many ways. … We served really hard. I thought that was really good. We were aggressive on the front line.

The final set took even more from Charmay Lee’s team. With 12 draws, it was much more competitive. The Riverhawks began to pull away, taking a 15-19 lead before eventually reaching set point by two. It was then that Silina Damuni calmly brought her team back by scoring three of the Thunderbirds’ last six points.

“I try to show that I can trust my teammates as much as possible,” said Damuni of Timpview. “I wouldn’t want anyone else on the pitch but them. Just building trust in my team is super important, believing in me and them too.

The Thunderbirds and Damuni will take advantage of that confidence in their next game at the Thunderdome on Tuesday night against Salem Hills. Ridgeline will have another shot at their first win of the season on the same day in a home game against Lehi. Both games are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

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