Dig. Set. Spike. Serve.The players on this year's all-valley volleyball team can do it all, no matter which position they play. And in the end, one player stood above all the others, mostly because of her incredible court sense, serving and setting ability, and the leadership qualities she possesses.
LACEY LAYCOCK, senior, setter, Lone Peak: After a great deal of thought, consternation and discussion, Lone Peak setter Laycock was named Utah Valley's volleyball MVP for 2007.
The former ballet dancer was the quarterback on the court for the 5A state champion Lone Peak Knights as the team completed an undefeated season against all Utah competition with a four-game defeat of Skyline in the trophy match.
But she didn't just QB the toughest and deepest hitting lineup in the state, she also kicked things up a notch with a sometimes untouchable serve. Laycock broke the state's single match service ace record in a three-game match against American Fork during the regular season with 13 killer aces, including seven in a row to start things off.
"When I was learning I would jump serve and serve hard every ball. It didn't matter whether it was in or not," said Laycock about her serve, which her coach Deanna Meyer notes is hard hit and drops fast.
She also hit 600 serves a night during her freshman and sophomore seasons, noting that all the extra effort was "all worth it."
"I kind of like to run things. I think about where I want the hitters to hit," said the setter, who has the ability to put up sets anywhere to anyone on the team. And she had plenty of people to set to during her years at Lone Peak.
"It's truly amazing we had so many great players," she added, noting that she didn't feel any extra pressure to get every player on the incredibly deep team involved. She just set the ball where she saw the hole in the defense, and her team respected her for that.But though she garnered MVP honors, Laycock wasn't the only player on that tough Lone Peak squad that landed on the all-valley team. Three teammates joined her.
LACEY CRAMER, senior, outside hitter, Lone Peak: This track and cross country star also found a home on the volleyball courts with an incredible jumping ability and the skills and confidence to be able to hit hard, hit consistently and hit from anywhere on the court.
FAITH TUSIESEINA, senior, rightside hitter, Lone Peak: A lefty hitter who moved in from Southern California, Tusieseina has good hitting and blocking skills, can hit back row and really knows how to dominate a match. She garnered 5A tournament MVP honors for her flashy and consistent play throughout the 5A playoffs, despite being sick on the final day of play.
AUBREY MUAINA, junior, outside hitter, Lone Peak: The junior who tore ligaments in her wrist during a summer boating accident, came on strong as the season progressed, finally finishing things up after suffering yet another injury in the tournament semifinals when she sprained her ankle against Viewmont. But she wouldn't let it slow her down despite the pain, playing intense and powerful volleyball later that night in the finals.
RAE MULITALO, sophomore, setter, American Fork: This young player was blessed with great hands and court awareness, and according to her coach Danette Moea'i, is "a magician on the court. She just makes things appear from nothing." Mulitalo led her team to a fourth place finish at state as the Cavemen overachieved all season long.
BROOKE MCALISTER, junior, outside hitter, Pleasant Grove: McAlister had to take over the squad when the team leader went down with an injury, but she had what it took to lead the young team to a sixth place finish in a tough 5A state competition. She put up a good block in addition to leading the Vikings with her hitting arm.
MARCI GRAY, senior, outside hitter, Lehi: This hitter does everything on the court from leading the team with her hustle and confidence to attacking the ball with power and placement to picking up incredible digs consistently. Her scrappy play has frustrated opponents for years.
APRIL ROBINS, junior, outside hitter, Orem: Robins led her youthful Tigers to the Region 7 title with some solid power and placement as she improved all season long. "That girl has hops that you wouldn't believe," noted her coach Natalie Kidman, who is looking forward to Robins' return next season.
NAOMI FLINDERS, senior, setter, Provo: The Bulldogs' team captain set a solid squad with no standouts all the way to a second-place tie in Region 7. Her leadership was key to Provo's intensity and scrappy winning efforts this season.
SAMANTHA SUMSION, senior, outside hitter, Springville: This intelligent hitter was the most consistent player on the Springville team all season long. Her coach Wade Taylor believes that her improvement was key to the Red Devils' success on the court and their eighth place finish in the state tournament. "She knows how to get around blocks," Taylor noted.
MACY MERRELL, senior, outside hitter/setter, Mountain View: A setter-turned-hitter, Merrell used her versatile talents to take the Bruins to a tie for second in Region 7. She used a powerful arm and some great court sense throughout the season. "We needed somebody who could put a ball away," said her coach Jon Fairbanks of her move to the outside, noting that she could even hit back row.
MIRANDA BRADSHAW, senior, outside hitter, Payson: This 6-foot-4 player who has signed with the University of Utah showed plenty of talent on the court with her powerful swings. She helped lead her team to victories over Provo and Orem during a topsy-turvy Region 7 season.
Ashton Grey, junior, Lone Peak
Heather Hannemann, junior, Lone Peak
Cari Shumway, senior, Lone Peak
Hillary Olsen, senior, Lone Peak
Makenzie Moea'i, sophomore, American Fork
Tatum Porter, senior, American Fork
Jennifer Hamson, sophomore, Pleasant Grove
Rachel Glassford, senior, Mountain View
Ella Moe, junior, Orem
Emily Julian, senior, Orem
Cassidy Christiansen, freshman, Provo
American Fork: Marlisa Hardman, senior; Miriam Sachs, senior; Brooke Miller, junior; Ariel Levao, senior; Jamie Goulding, senior
Lehi: Katrina Warburton, senior; Lindsay Day, junior; Miranda Parkinson, sophomore; Marnee Dortch, senior; Elle Brainard, freshman
Lone Peak: Kylie Heaps, senior; Anna Burgess, junior
Pleasant Grove: Kemi McFarland, So.; Brandi Bowman, senior; Melissa Rider, sophomore; Kim Dahl, freshman; Sarah Clement, senior
Spanish Fork: Erin Redd, sophomore
Timpanogos: Arianne Avery, junior
Mountain View: Graceann Jacobsen, senior; Heather Glassford, sophomore; Jennica Redd, freshman
Orem: Shelby Lamoreaux, junior; Amy Gonzalez, senior; Tameeka Jones, junior; Hannah Robison, freshman
Payson: Brooke Hiatt, junior; Katherin Caldwell, junior; Cassandra Unga, junior
Provo: Samara Ellsworth, junior.; Amber Zibetti, senior; Kara Griffin, junior; Alison Thomas, senior
Springville: Amberlee Allred, junior; Dayna Tuttle, senior; Taylor Steed, juniorTimpview: Jennifer Saxton, senior