Herriman boys volleyball 3rd best in state
May 30, 2018 12:35PM ● Published by City Journals Staff
Herriman senior Spencer Robins scores past the block against Lone Peak at the UBVA state tournament May 11–12 at Corner Canyon High School. (Photo courtesy Mark Robins)
By Catherine Garrett | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Herriman High boys volleyball team placed third at the Utah Boys Volleyball Association May 11–12 at Corner Canyon High School, the highest finish in program history. The Mustangs were led by outside hitter Gable Briggs and setter/outside hitter Spencer Robins on the 12-member squad.
“We definitely exceeded our expectations at state,” assistant coach Mark Robins said. “We definitely peaked at the end, and I think it had a lot to do with the camaraderie of the team. Once they beat a team that they weren’t expected to beat, then they had confidence and really trusted each other.”
Herriman defeated Lone Peak, Skyline, Olympus and Corner Canyon — while losing to Ridgeline and Bingham — to set up a rematch with Ridgeline for the bronze. The Mustangs prevailed in a tight 3-setter – 25-22, 23-25, 15-10 to claim third place.
“The level of competition in the state tournament this year [among the 16 teams] was as high as it’s ever been across the board,” Robins said. “We’re not a powerhouse team, but we’re good at every position.”
He particularly noted the emergence of three brand new players to volleyball — Cesar Cinco, Spencer Lestarge and Jared Casto — who not only picked up the middle blocker position quickly but were the dominant players at the net in the state tournament.
“The maturation of our middles has been incredible,” Robins said. “Our net defense was tough to get around. We blocked a lot of people.”
Also on the 2018 squad were setter Caden Bailey, outside hitter/right side Koleman Chidester, outside hitter/right side Kenyon Colemere, libero Peyton Colemere, outside hitter/right side Dub Laws, libero Daxton Owens and libero Parker Reynolds.
Head coach Shea Fahnestock was assisted by Robins along with managers Gracie Malovich and Brenna Dansie.
The sport of boys volleyball has been growing exponentially the past few years.
Herriman, which had two teams last season, is now at four teams, thanks in large part to the efforts of Spencer Robins, Briggs and Malovich who have set up booths at the high school during lunches and made school announcements to create interest.
“They’ve done a really good job of putting the sport on the map at the school as a legitimate sport,” Mark Robins said. “Spencer has been the biggest advocate for this program and has been key in finding those kids who need a place, and I think it’s important for us to continue to facilitate that. There are so many boys that are really good athletes, but our school is just so large that there isn’t a place for them on all these athletic teams. We want to make sure these boys just have opportunities.”
Of the 64 boys that came to tryouts, 46 were placed on the Mustangs’ four squads.
“Boys naturally take to volleyball because the game is aggressive, fast-paced and requires that everyone on the court contribute equally,” Mark Robins said. “It’s a consummate team sport. Boys pick it up very quickly and learn great skills like increased vertical, footwork and body control.”
The sport has been played throughout the state the past 20 years, but the UBVA was formed just three years ago.
“Our goal was to work together to grow boys volleyball,” UBVA president Jill Davis said. “We have been successful in bringing leadership, organization and growth to the existing boys volleyball community. We continually strive to help it be a more legitimate and formally recognized experience for the many boys here who love to play. We have seen incredible response and success since UBVA’s inception.”
Currently, the boys sport is not sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association, but discussions with UHSAA have taken place, and Davis is “hopeful our local school administrators will begin to recognize the value of it as a viable athletic option for their students.”
Davis noted that nearly all of the 149 schools in the state have girls volleyball.
“It’s obviously a very popular and welcome sport in the state,” she said. “And, anyone who has ever seen boys play at a competitive level know it is a very different and exciting game to watch, so we are hopeful the culture of boys volleyball will continue to build and become more accepted and supported by our community at large.”
Boys volleyball has also been evolving into a year-round sport with a fall club season held and nine club options statewide for participants to choose from. The numbers continue to grow each year, which is also helping the high school spring season, that is facilitated through recreation centers, expand to more than 60 teams this season — which includes 32 teams from Salt Lake County.
“Volleyball is just a great game,” Davis said. “It is truly a team sport, truly a mental exercise, and truly a challenge to master. If you play competitively, you begin to appreciate many incredible technical nuances that are involved. For example, the slight angle of a hand will make or break a good pass, set, block or hit which can result in either you gaining a point or giving one away. And, of course, that all has to be decided and accomplished in a fraction of a second — sometimes while you are floating in mid-air.”
Davis said what lies ahead for boys volleyball in the state will be determined, in large part, to UBVA’s “ability to accommodate the current growth and interest.”
“We truly hope the future sees all boys high school volleyball teams in Utah enjoying a healthy presence within their own schools — whether merely using the gyms for practices and games as a club sport or as a full-fledged sanctioned sport with total school support.”