5A volleyball MVP: Senior inspired her teammates to unlikely title
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
PLEASANT GROVE — Watching Melissa Fuchs play volleyball is not a sedentary activity.
The senior outside hitter plays with such passion and energy that even the most unathletic would be tempted to lace up a pair of shoes and join her on the court after watching a few plays.
The senior outside hitter throws everything she has into every play and the result this season was a 5A state title for the Vikings. She led the team offensively with 355 kills and was a force defensively with 235 digs and 17 blocks. But it was an intensity that can't be quantified or recorded on a stat sheet that helped Fuchs lead the Vikings to an unlikely state title after finishing second in region play. Her skills earned her a scholarship to Central Michigan University.
"Her greatest strength would be her mentality to win," said Pleasant Grove head coach Allyce Jones. "Her competitiveness."
Her drive to improve helped the Vikings finish the year with a dominating win over the region rival that had beaten them three times this fall — Lone Peak.
"She really took the role (of captain) seriously," said Jones. "Especially at the end of the season, she really got the team pumped up. She really has a gift to get people fired up."
In the weeks leading up to the tournament, Fuchs spoke with her teammates about how they could achieve their goal of a state championship if they played for each other. At times, the teen, who is of Brazilian decent, offered them sayings in Portuguese, which they enjoyed but didn't always understand.
"She's very inspiring with her words," said Jones. "She's a very vibrant personality and a lot of fun to coach. Straight up, if you know her well enough, she's just a complete goofball."
Fuchs moved back to her native Utah after living with her family in Michigan until she was a sophomore. It didn't take her teammates long to embrace the energetic and talented young woman.
"If you watch her play, she just has fun," said Jones. "She doesn't let mistakes bother her. She shakes them off and just has a good time."
That is a skill she perfected this season, and it was key in helping the Vikings play their best when it mattered most. In the state championship match, Pleasant Grove didn't allow Lone Peak more than a three-point run as they swept the Knights for the title.
"She really worked on letting go of errors," said Jones. "By the end of her senior year, that' something she really overcame, and that's why she was so strong in the state tournament. Melissa played a very key role in our success."