Heavy hitters leading Juan Diego volleyball
Nov 11, 2019 03:09PM
By Catherine Garrett
The Juan Diego Catholic High School volleyball team. (Photo courtesy Bob McLellan, Shooting Star Photography)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
Led by two of the top hitters in Region 10, the Juan Diego Catholic High School volleyball team is battling for position within the region heading in to the 4A state tournament in early November.
Senior outside hitter Annie Sokolow and junior outside hitter Ciaran Carter have been key contributors in the Soaring Eagle squad, beginning the year winning eight of its first nine matches and later five straight matches to begin region play. Currently, Juan Diego has double-digit wins for the fourth time in the past seven seasons with a record of 16-5, and sit in third place in Region 10 with a 9-3 mark.
“Our season is going very well so far with a few bumps here and there,” second-year head coach Sam Vaitai said. “We’ve been working hard to fix our weaknesses like hitting errors. Part of it is the kids need to relax and play as they know how to.”
Sokolow said some of the team’s losses this season were against teams they could have defeated. “I do feel that each loss has taught us something that in the long run will make us stronger,” she said, adding that the key to the team’s success is the serve-receive game. “Passing well helps us to run a successful offense, with plays that are harder to pick up for our opponents,” she said. “The games that we pass over a 2.0 have been the smoothest games we’ve won.”
Other top players for the Soaring Eagle squad this season are seniors — setter Laulea Tavake, libero Chloe Radican, middle blocker Ella Candace and all-around specialist Lilli Ryan — while Vaitai also noted the contributions of seniors Kylie Bench, Beverly Niz, Fabi Sosa and Sarah Spurgin. “They are all doing a great job running our offense and leading our defense,” Vaitai said.
This season, Juan Diego has defeated Cottonwood, Granger, Ogden (twice), Lyman (Wyoming), Star Valley (Wyoming), Evanston (Wyoming), Rawlins (Wyoming), Natrona County (Wyoming), Tooele (twice), Cedar Valley (twice), Ben Lomond and Stansbury, with losses to Stansbury, Riverton (Wyoming), Cokeville (Wyoming) and Uintah (twice).
Also on the 2019 varsity squad are seniors Beverly Deniz, Fabi Sosa; juniors Paige Williams and Sally Trawick; sophomores Lizzy Mataele, Abbie Nelson and Rachael Strelow; and freshmen Ali Ryan and Lauren Zlotucha.
Vaitai is assisted by Joe Mcgavin, Joy Lo and Mike Lo on the coaching staff.
“We’ve tried to build up momentum in region to keep building throughout the state tournament,” Sokolow said. “It’s going to be physically and emotionally draining, but I believe we will fight until the very end.”