Warriors volleyball team hits stride as playoffs approach
Oct 30, 2019 04:09PM
By Greg James
Junior Taylor Barton has been an integral defensive part of the Warriors season. She leads the team in digs during the regular season. (photo courtesy of Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
Taylorsville High School could be hosting a match in the state volleyball tournament. The new high school ranking system puts them in control of its own destiny.
“I think these kids have done great,” Warriors head coach Clint Barnes said. “We have matured, and they have gotten better. I think this is the best year we have had in four years, and the kids are working hard on the court. We just continue to get better.”
A slow start to the season, losing their first three matches, has helped propel the Warriors close out the regular season strong. The Warriors stand at 7-1 in second place in Region 2, even though this season region finish is not as important in years past. The Utah High School Activities Association has adopted a new rating percentage index to seed its teams into the tournament.
“The first year with the RPI—I am happy with where it is,” Barnes said. “We could be hosting a home game for state. That is a big thing for our school and community. The RPI is new for everybody, and there are good and flaws to it. We will see how it works out.”
At press deadline, the Warriors were ranked 14th out of 28 schools in the 6A classification. The RPI is a statistical rating system taking into account the team’s winning percentage and the strength of their opponents.
“It comes down to it that it is good that these kids will get to play a round of the state tournament at a home school, and then the winner goes to UVU,” Barnes said. “It adds another aspect to this game. Rule changes are things that we as coaches can’t control. We have to enjoy the ride and keep playing good volleyball and see where it takes us.”
This year's team is loaded with seniors with potential. Seven have seen significant playing time.
“We have a lot of girls that have played well,” Barnes said. “Our seven seniors have been playing varsity since they were freshmen. This is their year that they have worked toward. They have really worked hard. It is the year they want to shine and not be that underclassman.”
Olivia Ashton leads the team in kills; Aleah Gregory averages nearly eight assists per set, and junior libero Taylor Gregory leads in digs.
“I think all of our kids have potential; it will depend on how hard they want to work and where they want to go,” Barnes said of the team's potential.
“I am proud of the work we have done,” Gregory said. “I am excited to get better and have a closer bond with my teammates. Volleyball is my favorite sport, but playing other sports keeps me in shape.” She has played volleyball since the seventh grade and participated with High Country and Club V year-round teams.
Barnes encourages his players to play other sports to improve their overall athleticism and school experience.
“There are goods and bads to playing club volleyball,” Barnes said. “I think kids should be multisport athletes. I think the club (volleyball) aspect where they play nine to 12 months out of the year it hurts the kids. I have seen more injuries and back problems. Kids need a break. They also need to support their school in different ways. It helps them be better students.”
The state tournament is Nov. 5–9. The finals will be held at Utah Valley University in Orem. Taylorsville won a state tournament in 1988.
“I think these kids are sweet,” Barnes said. “They have great personalities. They are a fun group of kids. There is no drama. Kids are not fighting; they like each other. The last time I had a team like that, we won a state championship.”