Alta Volleyball Blending Skill and Toughness for 2016Oct 04, 2016 04:02PM ● By Billy Swartzfager
Alta Gearing up for a match earlier this season. (Mimi Dahlin/Alta Volleyball)
By Billy Swartzfager | [email protected]
The volleyball players at Alta High School, who took second in region play last season, are a tough-looking team for 2016. The Hawks, in addition to having taken second in a thick 4A region seven race, played all the way to the semifinal match, losing a hard-fought battle against eventual state champion Bountiful, taking fourth place in 2015. That experience, as well as veteran leadership from several returning varsity seniors and a competitive spirit, will hopefully take the team as far this season, if not further.
“Competitive, and fun,” Alta head coach Mike Gansauge said when asked to describe practice sessions with his team.
The Hawks, according to Gansauge, do have fun together. The coach likes to get the young ladies out as a team to participate in service learning activities and team-building events. Alta even travels to Wyoming annually to play in a tournament with several schools from Wyoming and Idaho. The players look forward to beginning their season with the tournament. This year they finished the tournament 2-1, losing to host Green River.
“The girls enjoy being together and over the years have developed a special bond with the host high school and community we travel to in Wyoming,” Gansauge said.
This season’s team is led by a few girls who are returning from strong 2015 campaigns. Senior Mimi Dahlin, libero, was first team all-region last season. Lexington Walbeck, outside hitter, also a senior, was issued second team honors. And senior Kacey Blackner, middle blocker, was all-region honorable mention in 2015.
Finishing second in the region and having such a strong crop of regional top performers could possibly lead to an even stronger season this year. Alta opened 2016 at home against region foe Provo on Sept. 8. The result was a 3-1 win. Alta followed Provo with matches against other schools including Mountain View, Skyridge and Orem, all important region matches. The Hawks finished that stretch 5-2, losing to Davis and Skyridge. Alta rounded out a tough September schedule against Timpview. Timpview played Bountiful and lost, taking the silver in last season’s state tournament. Alta won/lost in a very tough match, which both teams wanted very badly.
According to Gansauge, his team is known for its scrappy approach. Other teams prepare for the Hawks’ tenacity and no-quit mentality. The team is also touted for its defensive prowess. Other teams expect Alta to be tough, but that is only because the Hawks expect the very same thing from themselves.
“We come prepared every practice, ready to work hard, and expect the best of ourselves and teammates,” Gansauge said.
Alta, like all teams, wants to win and play competitively against other teams in region seven and those they will face if the team reaches the state tournament. But the team’s focus has been placed on giving each match their best effort. The Hawks want to leave every challenge knowing they took their best versions of themselves onto the floor.
“Of course we always want to take first in the region and first in state,” Mimi said, who has been playing volleyball for six years. “But our team’s goals are really about playing our best and always being able to improve and to learn through teamwork,” she added.
Alta is well on its way to getting into the state tournament, which will be held Nov. 3 and 4 at Utah Valley University in Orem. According to Mimi, this year’s group is blending well and showing strength as a team, while being able to be competitive. If the Hawks can stay as tough as they have been and continue to stick to their goals of always playing as well as they can, the Hawks should not only play in the tournament, but play quite well.