Lancers volleyball team elevates program to second straight state tournament
Dec 03, 2018 04:43PM
● By Greg James
By Greg James | [email protected]
The Granger volleyball team was winless in its region just three years ago. Their head coach, Lorenzo Gasper, labeled them this season as an up-and-coming team.
“I was very pleased with our season and the way we came out,” Gasper said.
In his third year as head coach, Gasper has seen an increase in victories each season. This year they finished with an 18-11 overall record and were undefeated in Region 2.
“We have really focused on the younger girls. Before they get to high school we find the girls that want to play. We have reached out to the community to let them know we have a volleyball program and it is available,” Gasper said.
He has organized better summer workouts. His idea was to get the girls playing more often and year round.
“We have the workouts starting the first day of summer and have them all the way to the last day. We encourage the new girls to try club volleyball if they are not playing another sport. It keeps their skills up,” Gasper said.
The Lancers faced Weber in the first round of the state playoffs. The first set did not go their way losing 25-12, but they rebounded to take the second set 25-15. The Warriors took the third set and Granger the fourth. The fifth and tie-breaking set went to Weber, 16-14.
“Congratulations to Weber, but there were opportunities there for us to win the match. Being a young team, we have underclassman and only two seniors, we didn’t have the experience. Our maturity will develop over the next couple of years to win these games,” Gasper said.
Tavivea Latu is one sophomore who had to rise to the occasion. She took the place of the team’s senior setter after an injury early in the season. She had 645 assists for the Lancers. The other, Priscilla Moleni, had 347 kills to lead the team.
“Both of those girls will have chances to play Division I volleyball. Our sophomore class is a very talented class. I have high expectations for next year. We return everyone and there is a really good freshman class coming in. We are starting to see the younger sisters of our older players,” Gasper said.
The middle blocker combination of Kalesita Tatafu and Ofa Moungaafi combined for 116 blocks. The juniors anchor the Lancer defense.
“Those two have improved tremendously throughout the season. They are students of the craft. Always asking what they can do to get better,” he said. “The entire squad is working constantly to get better. We have maintained a 3.5 grade point average. That is higher than the UHSAA (Utah High School Activities Association) requires. That can help them enroll in college one day.”
The Lancers eventually lost in the second round of the playoffs to Riverton 25-17, 20-25, 25-22, 25-15.
“In three years this program is accelerating into a top-notch program. Not only on the court but off the court too. They are becoming role models for the student body and the younger kids. They are typical teenagers and love to support the other teams. They are really great,” Gasper said.