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High school volleyball: 2013 Deseret News MVPs possessed more than talent in leading their teams

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19 2013 7:15 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Talent is not always enough to make someone a winner.

Especially in team sports, it takes chemistry and leadership, as well as great strategy and gifted athletes. This year's Deseret News volleyball MVPs used their unique personalities to improve their own contributions while inspiring their teammates to new heights.

The Deseret News honors these five outstanding players for their skill, leadership ability and success — on and off the court.

Layton's Eliza Katoa named 2013 Deseret News Ms. Volleyball

5A MVP

Rachel Gale, Pleasant Grove

An early-season loss to Timpview was so disappointing, the Pleasant Grove volleyball team decided to work out together immediately afterward.

“After two days of playing volleyball in the Rocky Mountain (Classic) Tournament, we went back to our weight room and did a very difficult workout,” said Viking head coach Allyce Jones. “The girls were pushing themselves to the max. Drenched in sweat, some of them even had tears (running) down their cheeks.”

So when it came time to finish, the coach knew her players couldn’t end with the usual high-fives and “good job.” She looked specifically at one of her team captains — senior outside hitter Rachel Gale.

“I asked them, ‘What do you think we should do?’” Jones recalled. “And Rachel, being the kind, compassionate person that she is, said, ‘I love you.’ I looked at her and said, ‘That’s perfect, Rach.’”

That match would not be the last the Vikings would lose. But thanks to the leadership of Gale and her co-captains, the team ultimately earned a region title and the 5A state championship.

“She’s a kid who, every practice, every workout, she’s giving 100 percent,” Jones said. “She’s one of those leaders in practice who makes sure everyone is working their hardest. She’s a great motivator to the team.”

And it didn’t hurt that Gale is one of the state’s most gifted volleyball players, either. The Utah State signee finished the season with 414 kills, 216 digs and 31 aces. She averaged 4.2 kills per set for an offense that boasted a lot of weapons.

“She has a lot of range in her hitting,” Jones said. “She just swings around the block extremely well.”

Gale never stopped trying to develop her talent, and as she gained more experience, she became more valuable to her team.

“She definitely became a better passer,” Jones said. “She got a lot stronger as she got older.”

And Gale works just as hard in the classroom, maintaining a 3.98 GPA.

Class 5A All-State volleyball teams

4A MVP

Jessie Jorgensen, Timpview

When coach Kristen Bailey was trying to turn the Timpview volleyball program around six years ago, she realized there was a difference between what she expected of her players and what they thought was possible for themselves.

The task of instilling confidence and high expectations in players who’d never been part of a winning program became much easier when a little girl from her home town of Mt. Pleasant moved to Provo.

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