BOUNTIFUL--The Bountiful High volleyball begins this season with a different look from the two previous teams that won consecutive 4A state titles.
“We’re definitely gonna be a different team and play a different style,” said head coach Sarah Chism, who returns for her second year as head coach and third with the program. “In the past, we had two 6’4” players in the middle and while we still have some height, it’s not quite the ‘wow’ we’ve had being a really tall team. But we will have new weapons and work just as hard continuing the core values from the legacy that was set the past two seasons.”
Four key returning seniors – First Team All-State setter Bri Mortensen, Honorable Mention All-State libero Holland VandeMerwe and outside/right side hitters, Second Team All-State player Brooklen Pe’a and her twin sister Kaybrie Pe’a – have significant varsity experience and will be looked to lead the team on and off the court.
“In just the short time we’ve spent together already, I’ve really enjoyed watching these older girls emulation the leadership they’ve seen from last year,” Chism said. “They have a really good tradition to follow and they have stepped in to those roles so well.”
Chism said that while assessments and goals are still being made with this year’s team, the program she runs has four “non-negotiables.” “We will have integrity in everything that we do, trust in each other, sportsmanship and a team first mentality,” she said. “I expect the same work ethic even if we don’t have the same players.”
Region re-alignments have made Region 5 more competitive than in years past with Bountiful also moving up to the 5A classification. Additionally, the Braves pre-season schedule “could be the toughest preseason in the state,” according to Chism, as the team faces last year’s 5A champions Lone Peak, Morgan – the 2016 3A champions – and tough opponents in Skyridge, Layton, Fremont and Davis.
“I’d rather have these girls play tough matches and be put in uncomfortable situations and have to work things out so we can adjust early than to not have been battle-tested as the season goes on,” Chism said.
Also on the 2017 team are seniors Baylee Mittelstaedt, Celine Pita and Aubrey Rice; juniors Tashena Ashby, Katelyn Black, Kambrie Goodell, Baily Jenkins, Kaitlyn Pollard and Kennedy Poulton; sophomores Mia Hansen, Hannah Howard, Sayler Larson, Taylor Lawrence, Brynne Merrick, Macey Smith, Sadie Stevens, Sarah Stevens, Brooklyn Taylor and Kait White; and freshmen Bailey Hanson, Brynlee Kuipers, Sara Stobbe and Sydnee Stringfellow
“I just love these girls too much so I keep coming back,” Chism said. “There’s a new group ever year and each group is different but it is so fun to be around them.”
Chism will again be assisted this season by junior varsity coach Joel Burton and Brittnie and Brooke Rathmann, who were 2015 All-State players for Bountiful.
“I’m excited for this year and what this group can do,” Chism said. “I will say though that we are not there yet. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s where the fun is – in the work to get there.”
In its first match of the season, Bountiful defeated Davis 25-9, 25-12, 25-19. Brook Pe’a led the way with 13 kills on 20 attempts with just two errors while her twin sister Kaybrie put away seven kills and Baylee Mittelstaedt had eight kills. Bri Mortensen recorded 34 assists running the offense, while Holland Vande Merwe had 39 digs defensively.