Copper Hills finishes season fourth in state tournamentDec 16, 2021 11:27AM ● By Greg James
By Greg James | [email protected]
The Grizzlies volleyball team returned to the state finals and came away with a fourth-place finish.
“We were so close,” Copper Hills volleyball head coach Silver Fonua said. “I really did not expect us to get as far as we did. We got so close to beating those teams. This year it was like, wow.”
Copper Hills entered the state tournament with the No. 1 seed according to the Utah High School Activities Association ratings performance index. The Grizzlies earned 25 wins while only losing twice during the regular season, including an undefeated region schedule.
They cruised through the first two rounds, defeating Weber and Bingham. In the semifinals, they lost to Pleasant Grove 3-1.
The semifinals match started well for the Grizzlies; they took the first set 25-18. They seemed poised to capture the victory, but the Vikings rallied and won three straight sets.
Copper Hills could not recover and then lost to Syracuse for a fourth-place finish.
“We had to work much harder to achieve what we had this year,” Fonua said. “There were games that went four or five sets. We stayed focused for long periods of time this year. We could not afford to take a play off.”
Lolo Fonua was named the 2021 Region 3 most valuable player. A Grizzly has been named MVP every year since 2017 (Fonua, Teniyah Leuluai, Asiah Sopoaga, Aliyah Sopoaga and Taela Laufiso). She set a school record with 448 kills this season.
“[Lolo] has experience in playing in big games,” Fonua said. “She has worked super hard and may be one of the best players in the state. That speaks volumes; we have had such great players and she broke a record for our school that was set by some of the greatest players we ever had,”
Elle Hutchings turned into a six-rotation player this season. In the past she only played the front row, but her improvement led to more playing time. She was named first team All-Region and her 42 serving aces led the team.
“This year [Hutchings] knew it was her year,” Fonua said. “She became a better passer and defender. I think all of her statistics more than doubled. We really saw her work payoff.”
Senior Randi Reeves was named Region 3 libero MVP. The libero is considered a defensive specialist. Liberos play the back row and usually have good ball-control skills. She surpassed 1,000 career digs at Copper Hills.
“She set a new school digs record and played really good defense,” Fonua said. “Her passing allowed our hitters way more opportunities.”
Reeves has committed to continue her volleyball career at Salt Lake Community College. Both Lolo and Hutchings are still contemplating multiple offers.
Seniors Courtney Green, Reagan Ricks and Jacie Bell were named to the 2021–22 Academic All-State team. This award recognizes those who excel on the court as well as in the classroom.
“Our program has developed every year,” Fonua said. “It feels good to see kids find a sport they love. I understand volleyball will not be something these kids do for the rest of their lives, but it teaches how to do hard things.”
This was his eighth year as the Copper Hills head coach. Last season, the Grizzlies finished in second at state.
“At the end each year, I take time off to think about it,” Fonua said. “It feels like we have done quite a few things, and the goals the players have accomplished are great. We are not as tall as some of the teams. We work hard to win games. We are able to compete every year in the final four. Some of our kids sit on the bench, but they make us better even through practice.”