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South Valley Riverton Journal

Strong season takes Mountain Ridge volleyball to state quarterfinals

Dec 01, 2023 11:19AM ● By Josh McFadden

Sadie White, seen here at the 2022 state tournament, was second in 6A in assists this past season. (File photo City Journals)

Considering its difficult schedule, it was a highly successful season for the Mountain Ridge volleyball team. 

The Sentinels hit the 20-win mark to finish the year with a 20-12 record. They were also 5-4 in Region 2 (third place), going up against the likes of Bingham and Corner Canyon, both of which amassed 27 wins and ended up playing one another in the third-place match. Mountain Ridge reached the Class 6A state quarterfinals on Nov. 2, falling to No. 1 seed and eventual runner-up Skyridge 3-0. 

Head coach Bryan Nicholson loved his team’s effort and grit throughout the season. 

“The season overall was extremely successful,” he said. “Finishing third in a very tough region and to finish with more than 20 wins in any season is quite an accomplishment. I was most happy with the poise and fight that this team displayed. We weren't always as consistent as a coach would like to see, but anytime we would drop sets badly, I knew this group would respond and fight back.”

The Sentinels reached the quarterfinals with a back-and-forth 3-2 win over Farmington in the second round. After dropping the first set 25-20, the Sentinels came back to win the second one 25-13. Set three went to Farmington, 25-19, but Mountain Ridge prevailed in the next two to advance in the state tournament. The Sentinels won sets four and five by the scores of 25-23, 15-4. 

In the quarterfinals, Mountain Ridge had a rough second set against Skyridge, falling 25-6 to go down two games to none. But the team didn’t quit and gave the Falcons everything they could handle in the final set, falling 27-25. 

“A five-set battle with a very good Farmington team was a great highlight for this tournament,” Nicholson said. “Then being able to turn around in the third set vs the No. 1 seed Skyridge after dropping a bad second set and to push them to extra points really showed the fight this group has in them.”

The Sentinels reached the state title game a year ago but had to replace some productive players. Still, Nicholson had high expectations for the season. He was pleased with how well the team played and noted highlight wins over Herriman on senior night and a big win over Corner Canyon at home in the final region game of the season. 

Setter Sadie White and Addy Cook, in particular, had stellar seasons for Mountain Ridge. White was second in 6A in assists. Cook was third in 6A in total kills. In addition, libero Ava Livolsi and Allie Grosenbach stood out with their play this season, particular down the stretch. 

“[White] really controlled the ball well for us all year, including the tournament,” Nicholson said. “[Cook] was a dominant force at the net offensively for us all year. [Livolsi] was digging everything at the tournament, and [Grossenbach], our opposite hitter, ended the season hitting a .250 average with 252 kills.”

For the departing seniors, the end of the season is always emotional, as they realize their careers on the team have come to an end. Nicholson is pleased that the senior group helped to establish a culture of winning and success at Mountain Ridge. However, the team returns a good group of players, setting up the Sentinels for strong potential in 2024.

“With the majority of starters returning, we are hungry to make an even bigger impact next season,” Nicholson said.

The returning players don’t just put their volleyballs away and stay off the court until next fall. Nicholson said 95% of his players will play club ball in the spring. The team also has a robust summer conditioning program designed to help the girls be faster and strong for the next season. 

Ultimately, wins and losses don’t determine the experience for Nicholson. He is grateful for his players’ hard work and attitudes. He appreciates the help he gets from others along the way in building the Mountain Ridge program. 

“I truly have the best support staff in my coaches, parents, admin and community,” he said. “Everyone associated with Sentinel volleyball has been super supportive and have helped in any way asked. Coaching is never easy, but when you have great kids and a supportive community, you can really focus on the kids, and that's the rewarding part.” λ