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The City Journals

Cottonwood volleyball bounces back with lone region victory after tough start

Nov 07, 2018 03:17PM ● By Jana Klopsch

The Cottonwood volleyball team went 4-1 in preseason, but started region 1-7. (Photo/Paige Allred)

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

After a preseason in which the Cottonwood Colts volleyball team went 4-1, much was expected of a squad that played a few games into last year's state tournament. 

Despite a difficult 1-7 start in a tough region, however, the mindset this young team has chosen to have during such a rough stretch has even surprised their head coach, Elizabeth Allred. 

“They have been working very hard in practice and have strove to push themselves to the next level in order to be competitive in this region,” said Allred. 

If you aren't familiar with the region in which Cottonwood competes, it's a Murderer's Row of top volleyball programs. 

You have Alta. Brighton. Corner Canyon—basically the ABC's of really good, competitive Class 5A teams consistently competing for championships. And then, there's Jordan and Timpview, both of whom are not slouches, either. 

The Colts opened their 2018 region slate at Corner Canyon Sept. 13, falling in three straight sets to the Chargers. They next took on Jordan at home on Sept. 18, again dropping the match by a final score of three sets to one. 

Cottonwood took its show back on the road on Sept. 20, traveling to Brighton for their third region contest. The Colts were in this contest as well, succumbing only after a dogfight in which the home standing Bengals won the first set 25-11. 

Like the Jordan match though, Cottonwood flexed its muscles as the match went on against Brighton, winning the second set 26-24. But the Colts dropped the third set 26-24—which seemed to deflate Cottonwood's confidence a bit in the fourth set as Brighton closed out the match with a 25-14 victory. 

As the season has gone on, according to Allred, these young Colts are beginning to find their way despite losing some difficult games. 

“One thing we are trying to work on improving is our defensive game,” added Allred. “We have been working on blocking and digging recently in practice in order to up our game.” 

Like any young team, Cottonwood has suffered through some ups and downs. After showing so much promise in the Jordan and Brighton matches, the Colts dropped consecutive straight-set losses to Timpview, Alta and Corner Canyon to close out September and move into October play. 

On October 11, the Colts traveled to Jordan looking for redemption. They got it from a squad that was reeling from six consecutive losses to kick off region play, but that had absorbed the lessons from previous games to put together their most impressive win on the year. 

Cottonwood won the first set over Jordan 25-21 before dropping sets two and three, 25-13 and 25-20. But the Colts rebounded with 25-22 and 15-10 victories in sets four and five to win the match and collect their first region win in 2018. 

“We are currently tied for last place in our region with [Jordan High School],” said Allred, referring to the one team in region that the Colts (now 1-7 in region after a straight set loss to Brighton Oct. 16) have defeated. 

The loss to Brighton on Oct. 16 all but ensures that the Colts will be staying home this year—although there is still a mathematical possibility that if they were to win their final two region matches they would qualify for a play-in game for a chance to return to the Class 5A state tournament. 

Cottonwood has been led all year by sophomore middle blocker Gladyz Faka'oisula, who has 33 kills on the year. In addition to the sophomore sensation, Allred said she has been impressed by junior setter Sia Faingaa. 

“Both are my captains and have stepped up to the plate and took on these leadership roles with vigor and strength,” added Allred. 

With the two captains slated to return next year, the future looks bright for a Cottonwood side that has shown some promise as the season has gone on. 

The Colts graduate just two starters—one of which leads the team in kills, seniors Lily Velovaa and the other being Gracyn Ontiveros.