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The City Journals

Chargers boys volleyball team feeling good about their chances

Mar 27, 2019 01:54PM ● By Catherine Garrett

Corner Canyon’s boys volleyball team return a more experienced team this season after a fifth-place finish at the state championships last spring. (Photo courtesy Angela Vranes)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

Under fourth-year coaches Mike Rogers and Dan Penrod, the Corner Canyon High boys volleyball team has taken three top-five finishes at the state tournament the past three years, including the 2016 title. Junior libero Zane Minnick and junior outside hitter Tytan Pace, All-Tournament players from the 2018 state tournament, return for the Chargers this season along with some key juniors — outside hitter/setter Gavin Penrod, opposite hitter Jack Nielsen, middle blocker Blake Rupp and middle blocker Will Yeomans — back with significant experience from a year ago.

“Our team was young but very talented last year,” Penrod said. “This year, we plan to capitalize on the added physicality and athleticism that they have developed since being sophomores.”

Minnick, a 6'1" libero who has been with the Chargers program since he was in seventh grade, said the team learned a lot of lessons last season and are back with more experience this time around, with most players having played club volleyball and in some outdoor tournaments this summer. “We’re definitely a lot more developed this year,” he said. “And we definitely have more talent than last year with some great impact players. We have some great leaders in this group and we’re excited to compete.”

Three Brighton High players — senior setter Sam Barlow, junior outside hitter TJ Burns and sophomore middle blocker Anthony Vranes — have joined Corner Canyon this season since their school doesn’t have a team. “Sam will bring experience and leadership, TJ has volleyball in his blood, is very versatile and has excellent all-around skills, and even though Anthony is young, he will be a strong addition to the team,” Coach Penrod said.

Coach Penrod also noted Nielsen’s improvement from a year ago when he was new to the sport. “Jack has improved immensely,” he said. “His size and athleticism will prove a challenge for opposing team’s outside hitters.”

Corner Canyon began its season with a win against Herriman Gold 25-18, 25-15 March 5 behind Pace’s five kills and four aces and Barlow’s 17 assists. Defensively, Minnick recorded nine digs and Vranes and Yeomans had two blocks each. The Chargers also faced Taylorsville that evening and won 25-12, 25-9, led by Gavin Penrod’s 11 kills and 16 assists from Barlow. From the serving line, Barlow and Vranes topped Corner Canyon with four aces apiece.

Against Olympus Chaos March 12, the team won 25-21, 25-19 behind Gavin Penrod’s 12 kills with 25 assists from Barlow and three aces and seven digs from Minnick. The Chargers then went on to defeat Jordan later that night 25-12, 25-17 with five kills each from Gavin Penrod and Pace. Gavin Penrod also served four aces while Minnick (six digs), Nielsen (three blocks), Yeomans (three blocks) and Barlow (16 assists) were also key contributors in the straight-set win.

The Chargers will also play Herriman and East March 21, Bingham Blast and Bingham Fire March 28, Park City and West Jordan April 11, Olympus Titans and Bingham Jetz April 25 and Skyline and Copper Hills – Varner April 30.

“We know that we can play with any team in the state, but our goal is to work hard throughout the season and never rest on our laurels,” Coach Penrod said.

Gavin Penrod feels that Rogers, who also coaches the Utah Valley University boys squad, is a “really, really good coach.” “With Coach Rogers and the team we have, I’m really excited to see what we can do,” he said. “We’re gonna do some great things.”