High school volleyball: 1A volleyball tournament deeper, more competitive than ever
Because four of the six have been starters for the Jayhawks since their freshman year, they feel a kind of urgency that hasn’t existed in past seasons.
“They feel they have the talent to win,” Franklin said. “They feel like there are no more one mores. This is it and we have to push and get it done.”
Like the other coaches, he sees the field as extremely competitive.
Rich is the program that dominated the tournament for many years and the program that most coaches credit with raising the expectations for the state’s smallest schools.
The Rebels are always ranked in the top five, usually one or two, and this year is no exception. Head coach Cindy Stuart finds a way to bring the best out of her players, and the Rebels head into this tournament 15-9 with a perfect 8-0 region record.
The Rebels are led by Cami Lamborn, Regan Lloyd and Ellen Peart.
“St. Joe’s is very talented, we know what they have” Esplin said. “Panguitch and Piute — either one is tough. And Rich, year in and year, out, they’re always tough. Knowing everything Cindy (Stuart’s) done in the past, well, that’s all you need to know.”
Panguitch is led by senior Macey Stephenson, libero, junior middle Dari Frandsen, sophomore outside Chesney Campbell, sophomore middle Taylor Bennett and sophomore outside hitter Whittni Orton.
The Bobcats are unique in that much of the volleyball team just helped the school’s cross-country team win its third straight title. Coach Frandsen said she and the cross-country coach make it possible for the girls to participate in both sports. Orton won the 1A individual state title.
Frandsen said part of the reason she encourages her players, not all of whom love running, to participate is that it helps them understand how every contribution helps a team.
“It helps them understand that, ‘Even if I don’t play all the way around, my job is important,’ ” Frandsen said. "It’s important to the team because that’s what we need."
The 1A state volleyball tournament begins Wednesday afternoon with the championship match scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at Utah Valley University's UCCU Center.