PCHS volleyball squad adds firepower for 2016
Last season, the Park City High School volleyball team squeaked into the 3A playoffs as the No. 4 seed from Region 10.
Their reward? A first-round matchup against Morgan, a team that sent seven of its seniors on to play Division I college volleyball after cruising to a 3A state championship victory.
Park City rebounded after the opening loss, winning two games in the one-loss bracket before losing the sixth-place game to North Sanpete.
Heading into the 2016 season, though, the Miners have bigger plans. With several experienced varsity players returning to the roster, Coach Matt Carlson is excited to see what his team can do.
“We have most of our starters returning from last year, which is awesome,” he said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of varsity experience last year. Even though they were talented, hard-working kids, they just lacked the experience.”
Not only are the Miners more seasoned in 2016, they’re also more talented. Carlson said he’s seen several players step up their games this offseason.
“Last year, we lacked some firepower,” he said. “We based everything on our scrappy play, which didn’t manifest itself at state. This year, we have some kids who have grown and are jumping higher and hitting harder, so we’ll have some offensive weapons this year.
“Overall, our ball control is so much better than it was last year, too. We’re not spending a whole lot of time in the gym making technical changes. We’re just focusing on executing plays, which we didn’t get to until the end of the season last year.”
Not having to start from scratch this year should lead to more early-season success, Carlson said.
“We’re starting at a whole different level this year,” he said. “It’s fun because we can hit where we were last year earlier this season. We should have a lot more wins early on to help get our momentum going and our confidence going.”
In order to accomplish that quick start, the Miners will rely heavily on their seven seniors.
“We have two senior captains in Kinley Reed and Joanna Saucedo,” Carlson said. “One (Saucedo) is the setter and one’s the libero (Reed) and they both have awesome senior leadership. We have five other seniors, too. For middle hitting, we’ll have Hanna [Greenholtz] and then we have Nicole [Brown] and Clara [Schmae] on the outside and Natasha [Yaworsky]’s a right-side hitter, so we have some firepower there.”
When Region 10 play starts, Carlson said he expects a better finish than fourth.
“A lot of the other schools lost a lot of their senior leadership,” he said. “Union will be our toughest competition, but we should be able to finish at least in the top two this year.”
From there, having a better seed at the 3A state tournament should lead to better results, Carlson continued.
“Morgan lost a lot of their players,” he said. “They were phenomenal last year and had seven kids go on to DI, but they lost a lot. They’ll be good again, but we’re looking to win a state championship this year and at least to be a top-four finisher and win our first two games at state.”
To have that success, though, Carlson said the Miners will have to improve their mental toughness from last season.
“It’s going to come down to how well we can execute in big moments,” he said. “The skill set is there, the technique is there and the system play is getting there, but it’s about if we can execute that in big moments.”
For now, however, Park City’s focus is on its Aug. 23 season opener at home against Judge Memorial.
“They’re looking forward to playing Judge,” Carlson said. “That’s going to be a good test for us.”
The Miners’ game against Judge is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Park City High School.
PCHS Volleyball Schedule
Aug. 23 — vs. Judge Memorial — 6 p.m.
Aug. 26-27 — at Skyridge Tournament — TBA
Aug. 30 — at Juan Diego — 6 p.m.
Sept. 1 — at North Summit — 6 p.m.
Sept. 6 — at Lone Peak — 6 p.m.
Sept. 8 — vs. Juab — 6 p.m.
Sept. 15 — vs. Grantsville — 6 p.m.
Sept. 22 — at Tooele — 6 p.m.
Sept. 27 — at Union — 6 p.m.
Sept. 29 — vs. Stansbury — 6 p.m.
Oct. 4 — at Grantsville — 6 p.m.
Oct. 7-8 — at Bingham Tournament — TBA
Oct. 11 — vs. Tooele — 6 p.m.
Oct. 13 — vs. Union — 6 p.m.
Oct. 18 — at Stansbury — 6 p.m.
Oct. 26-27 — 3A State Tournament — TBA
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Chase Campbell, a Park City High School sophomore, has a busy summer schedule, including the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships on July 22-23.