New region alignment, same expectations for Brighton volleyball
Aug 28, 2017 09:40AM
● By Jana Klopsch
The Brighton volleyball team is focused on winning another region title, this time in Region 7. (Photo by Adam Fernandez)
As it seems to happen every few years, the Utah High School Activities Association has shaken things up in region organizations across the state. The changes have affected Brighton High School somewhat, but the stakes remain high for the Bengals volleyball team.
And why shouldn’t they? Brighton has been one of the state’s most successful programs the past couple of years.
The Bengals have shared the last two Region 3 titles with Bingham. Last season, Brighton went 29-3 overall (capturing fifth place in state) and 11-1 in region play, losing only to Bingham. This season, with the creation of Class 6A, Brighton remains in 5A and moves to Region 7, where it will compete with Alta, Corner Canyon, Cottonwood, Jordan and Timpview. There are some familiar faces in the region, such as Alta and Jordan, and some teams the Bengals have never faced in region action, such as Timpview.
“We have a brand-new region,” said Head Coach Adam Fernandez. “It’ll be exciting to face some new teams.”
One noteworthy difference in the region realignment is that Brighton won’t have to worry about nemesis Bingham. Fernandez, though, knows the new competition will be no slouches.
With all the success Brighton had a year ago, he has high hopes this season.
“We want to compete for the state championship,” he said. “We’d love to win region.”
Attaining either of those goals won’t be easy. Brighton must find a way to replace a departed senior sensation from last year’s squad in Dani Barton. The team leader and 2016 Ms. Volleyball (as awarded by the Deseret News) is now playing for the University of Utah and leaves a big hole to fill on the team.
However, Fernandez isn’t without options. Senior middle blocker Corrine Larsen, who has committed to sign with Utah State University, was an honorable mention All-State performer a year ago and will be counted on heavily this season to keep the Bengals’ momentum going. Setter Anna Gloeckner and Cate Monson will be other varsity squad members to keep an eye on this season.
The Bengals will have to overcome some inexperience if they hope to win the region crown. Fernandez said he has 10 players who haven’t seen varsity action before; however, he also said a couple of freshmen from last year’s team are returning as sophomores this season poised to make an even bigger contribution.
But what it really comes down to, Fernandez said, is the mental aspect of the game.
“The biggest thing when dealing with high school athletes is attitude,” he said. “Kids need to be coachable. If they come in overly confident, it’s going to be a problem. Ninety percent of the battle is the mindset.”
Fernandez is confident, however, that his players have the will to win and have the proper demeanor to not let up this season, despite losing Barton.
“They’re coming back with confidence,” he said. “Consistency as a coach is key, and the girls believe they can do it.”
The Bengal players get along with one another on and off the court. Team building has been instrumental in developing trust and rapport. Fernandez said even the most talented teams in the world will struggle if the players don’t learn to play together and buy in to the team concept.
Brighton opened its 2017 season Aug. 15 at Box Elder.