Grizz volleyball hopes this is their yearSep 21, 2020 04:45PM ● By Greg James
Copper Hills head volleyball coach Silver Fonua helped guide theme to a second-place finish last season. (photo courtesy of Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The Copper Hills volleyball team hopes to take the next step towards a state championship.
“We have been looking forward to this season,” Grizzlies head coach Silver Fonua said. “We feel like this is our year. We are excited to be in the gym because we feel like we have the team.”
In mid-June the Jordan School district opened high school gyms to allow sports training. The Grizzlies were cautious to follow district protocol so that they could keep playing.
“A lot of our girls play club volleyball, so even when we were let back into our gym, they had been playing,” Fonua said. “Going through COVID precautions was not new to them. We have been building up to this and are doing our part because we know this could end our season.”
The 2019 Grizzlies team finished second in the state tournament. They lost to Pleasant Grove three sets to one; 14-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-22. The runner-up finish comes one year after they finished third.
“There is pressure when you do well like we have there are expectations,” Fonua said. “We have the core, and I am confident that we can handle these though games.”
The senior-laden team is highlighted by several recognized players.
Grizzly twins Asiah and Aliyah Sopoaga were named to the 2019 Deseret News All-State team. They have also committed to Idaho State to continue their volleyball careers after high school.
“There are not many scholarships on a college team,” Fonua said. “For them to offer both sisters is very good. Their coach (Debbie Buchanan) has been watching them for a while and she believes in them both. They are the hardest workers on this team.”
As a setter, Aliyah averaged nearly three assists per set. She was second-team All-State in 2019. Teniyah Leuluai provides a dual-threat at the setter position. She was named first-team last year and posted 6.2 assists per set.
“I feel we have really good hitters on the front row,” Fonua said. “We have a team that can score from multiple positions.”
Asiah had a season-high 34 kills against Bingham last season. Randi Reeves (outside hitter and libero), Elle Hutchings (outside hitter) and Lolohea Fonua rotate for those scoring opportunities.
“We have players that have received lots of recognition,” Fonua said. “They understand they have roles on this team. We can win together. They want to be part of something bigger. These girls have been with our program for a while. They have grown up together.”
The Grizzlies opened their season Aug. 18 against Juan Diego (after press deadline). They finished last season as the 4A No.1 seed. The Utah High School Activities Association used a rating performance index to seed its teams into the state tournament for the first time last season. They also have Timpview, Fremont, Pleasant Grove and Skyview on their early schedule.
“I put in a tough schedule because I know we are capable of playing against these teams, but we need to find out early and test ourselves,” Fonua said. “We need to play at a high level right from the beginning.”
The UHSAA state tournament is scheduled to begin Nov. 3.
“Our administration, the students and the community cannot wait to see the girls back in the gym,” Fonua said. “If there is a year, it is this year. This is going to be special for us. We have parents that support us and know that we have something big going on.,”