Grizzlies volleyball climbs to new heights
Nov 03, 2017 03:28PM
● By Greg James
Senior and team captain Taela Laufiso has provided leadership for the up-and-coming Grizzlies volleyball team. (Copper Hills volleyball)
That ascent of Copper Hills High School’s volleyball team has continued this fall. Head coach Silver Fonua is excited about the direction his team is taking.
“I feel good about our season,” Fonua said. “We have been doing the things the right way to get where we are at. I knew things were going to be tough for us two years ago. We set realistic goals and have had lots of experience in club volleyball.”
The Grizzlies have clinched a Region 3 volleyball championship and clinched a second-straight appearance in the state volleyball tournament. Until last season, a postseason appearance had eluded them.
“Last year is where this really started,” Fonua said. “The returning girls only had a few wins ever in high school volleyball. They came in and worked hard. We went 8-4 and finished third. We qualified for state, and we won our first match at state. It was a big step for us.”
In the preseason, the Grizzlies participated in the highly touted Wasatch Volleyball Festival at Skyridge High School. In the two-day tournament, they went undefeated on day one and advance to the semifinals where they lost Pleasant Grove 25-14, 25-22.
“To start out, our goal is to win region,” Fonua said. “In the Wasatch tournament against 27 other teams, we finished fourth. That was a big step for us. We knew that if we continued to work hard we could be successful.”
The Grizzlies rolled through the first half of the region schedule undefeated. Their confidence has grown with a balanced attack from its seniors and a strong group of underclassmen.
Freshman twins Aliyah and Asiah Sopoaga have contributed to the Grizzlies success this season.
“These girls (the Sopoaga twins) are only in ninth grade,” Fonua said. “They have played volleyball in our junior program since they were 10. They only stand about 5-foot-7, but they both can jump higher than any of our other girls. They are extremely athletically gifted. They are special girls.”
Asiah leads the team with 165 kills. Her sister Aliyah has 119 assists. Asiah plays outside hitter, and Aliyah is the team’s setter, but sometimes Fonua asks her to move to outside hitter.
Senior Taela Laufiso is second on the team with 115 kills. She averages nearly 2.5 kills per set. She has several offers to continue playing volleyball at the college level after high school graduation.
Defensively, Keleni Fonua moved this season from defensive specialist to libero. She leads the team in digs. The 5-foot-5 senior has nine serving aces on the season.
“Keleni is a tough-nosed player,” Fonua said. “She treats me like any coach even though I am her Dad. For her, winning and playing hard is very important to her.”
The Grizzlies have shared their recent success with a successful alumni and current BYU frontline player, Roni Jones-Perry. She has contributed to the team with pregame motivational talks and helping teach the game during the off season.
“We have taken the team to watch her play,” Fonua said. “She has had a big influence on these girls. A lot of them look up to her. It teaches them that a girl can come from West Jordan and do so well. Roni did not win a lot here. She tells the girls not to take wins for granted. Losses are still blue prints to help you get better.”
The state volleyball tournament is scheduled for Nov. 2 and 4 at Utah Valley University.