After successful 2016, Miners volleyball wants to improve | ParkRecord.com

After successful 2016, Miners volleyball wants to improve

The team returns four seniors and two all-state players

By Griffin Adams
The Park Record

The Park City High School girls volleyball team had a season to remember in 2016.

The Miners not only secured their first region title since 2008, but they also locked up a fourth-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament. This year, the team will be tasked with following up last year's performance after graduating seven seniors, but head coach Matt Carlson believes the squad is up to the challenge.

"We are starting at a higher point than we did last year," he said. "We're really excited. The kids that we've got coming in are solid and seasoned. I think we're going to have a good season this year."

Leading the way is a new crop of seniors that includes Bryn Simmons, Bella Buchanan, Hali Lukacs and last year's libero Audrey Malloy. Coupling that group with two returning all-state juniors in Emily Smith and Grace Wiczek, as well as a talented incoming sophomore class, the Miners believe they could be a threat for a Region 11 title.

"Everyone is just building upon what we did last year," Carlson said. "It's hard to replace a group of seniors like we did last year, but the seniors we have coming in are definitely talented. The juniors we have coming up are extremely talented, as well. Every class just keeps getting better and better."

One of the challenges the team will have to endure, however, is one that all the teams at Park City High School will encounter this year: competing at the 4A level.

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On one hand, the Miners won't have to deal with the likes of powerhouse Morgan, the defending 3A state champion, and Union, which defeated Park City in the third-place game at the state tournament. Both schools will remain in Class 3A.

On the other, they'll still have to face teams such as Desert Hills, last year's 3A runner-up, Mountain View and Salem Hills.

While the Miners hope to accomplish as much, if not more, as last season, the focus — for now — is simply to get better.

"Going [up to] 4A changes things a bit," Carlson said. "We don't know the competition that well, as much as years past. We're just looking forward to one practice, one game at a time and that's where we're at right now. We're not talking about winning state. We're not talking about winning matches.

"We're just talking about, 'Hey, let's work as hard as we can, right here, right now and see what happens.'"

Carlson is proud of what the 2016 team accomplished, but he's hoping that was just a stepping stone for the program.

"Last year, we had a great season that kind of put us on the map," he said. "Now, we have teams like Lone Peak wanting to play us at home. That’s the 5A defending state champs, and they want to play us because they want to get ready for another repeat. It's cool to have a season like we did last year to put us on the map, but we have to stay on the map.

"We have to work extremely hard to keep up the momentum we gained last year and do better this year."

The Miners will open their season on Tuesday on the road when they travel to Skyridge High School. The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.