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South Valley Riverton Journal

First year of boys volleyball going well for Riverton

Apr 09, 2024 02:32PM ● By Josh McFadden

The Riverton boys volleyball team got off to a hot start this season, winning 15 of its first 16 matches. The Silverwolves figure to be one of Region 2’s top teams. (Photo courtesy Elaine Gibson)

Sanctioning boys volleyball as an official high school sport couldn’t have come any faster for the Riverton Silverwolves. Excitement has been high, and the quality of play from the team has been strong. 

Riverton won 15 of its first 16 matches.

The Silverwolves had a full slate of games in March, including a few tournaments such as the Red Rock Classic in St. George, March 19–21. Riverton was 1-1 in its first two Region 2 matches, with its only loss of the season through 16 matches coming March 19 at Corner Canyon by the score of 3-1.

Of the team’s 15 wins up to that point, 11 had been shutouts. 

“We are doing well,” head coach Elaine Gibson said. “Our team chemistry is strong, and the culture is awesome. We understand that this is the foundation for success. We have several great hitters, so our offense is diverse. Our libero and setter are exceptional, so they make it possible for our hitters to execute.”

Gibson and her players are not shying away from setting lofty expectations. As the season began, the objectives were clear.

“Our goals are to win region and state,” she said. “We want to play as a team and exemplify good character. If we play to our potential and keep good team chemistry, we will reach our goals.”

Several Silverwolves have stood out so far. Riverton has a nice mix of talented seniors who provide good leadership along with promising, skilled younger players who bolster the lineup. There is talent at every position on the court. 

Gibson highlighted senior outside hitter Mitchell Barney, senior outside hitter Adam Roller, senior libero Spencer Maruji, senior middle blocker Reed Stewart, senior middle blocker Jared Lewis and senior middle blocker Dylan Green. Junior Parker Holyoak, an outside hitter, and Harrision Van Horn, a setter, are key players on the court, too. Plus, Riverton has sophomore middle blocker Mac Wall, who adds depth and reliability. 

“Every single one of them plays a huge role in our success,” Gibson said. “We are so grateful for each of them.”

Before the season began, Gibson held tryouts for the first-year team. A total of 45 boys came out. Gibson said it was “painful” to cut anyone, but she had to narrow the numbers and focus on a smaller number that would comprise the team.

“We have a good balance of depth, experience and future potential,” she said. “I am grateful for all the great coaches and parents who have helped to develop these young men into who they are. We are so excited about our up-and-coming athletes. Each year will be exciting to look forward to.”

As at other schools around the state, Riverton volleyball players and coaches were thrilled when the Utah High School Activities Association decided last year to officially make boys volleyball a sport. The inclusion is affording chances for the young men to compete on a big stage and represent the school. 

“There really aren’t words to describe their excitement and gratitude for boys volleyball being sanctioned,” Gibson said. “There are so many great young men in the past who never had this opportunity. It could have made a huge difference in their lives. Going forward, we have to find ways to give our youth every opportunity possible to be involved in their community and in their high school. It’s a tragedy that it took so long to add boys volleyball as a sanctioned high school sport. But we are so grateful it is here, and we get to participate in its first year.”

Riverton will face each region foe twice, ending with a May 2 match at home against Herriman. Two nonregion matches follow: at home against Judge Memorial May 7 and at Brighton May 9. The Class 6A state tournament will start May 14.

“We need to stay team-focused,” Gibson said. “Each player has to make sure that the team goals come before their individual goals. We will face some really good teams. Staying united during the tough games will be our objective.”  

Between now and the end of the season, Gibson wants to see her players stay focused and not become complacent. Continual improvement is critical, especially if the Silverwolves are going to make a run at region and state titles. Gibson also knows that even in the areas of the game that the team does well and excels in, improvement is possible. 

“We can improve in every aspect,” she said. “We can work at anything that makes us better.”

“It’s not difficult to enjoy coaching this group,” Gibson said. She’s honored to be at the helm of Riverton’s first boys volleyball team. She appreciates everything the boys are doing for the team and to improve themselves.

“Each one of them has an awesome personality, which makes it fun,” she said. “They know how to work hard, and they have fun doing it. The effort they put in during the offseason and preseason really began to shape the culture for this team. I love that we are one team, from freshmen to seniors. They treat each other with respect and include everyone in the big events in their lives. When we do a bonding activity, it’s a blast because the boys appreciate it and make it fun. I can’t say enough good about this team. They truly have what it takes to be successful this season and in their lives. It’s a privilege for us coaches to associate with them.” λ