Prep volleyball • Kearns has rebounded from a rough start to threaten to earn a postseason berth.
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The Cyprus Pirates have struggled to be a volleyball contender for years.
Comparing this year's record with the past, it would appear the team isn't making much headway.
But digging deeper shows that first-year coach Mika Moe is transforming the program in every aspect. Moe has Cyprus moving forward, and the Pirates are on the verge of breaking onto the scene at any moment.
Moe took over the team at the beginning of the season, and he immediately shook up things. He realized early on that the team had some deficiencies, so he engineered a plan to play to his players' strengths. He understood that having set middle blockers and outside hitters wouldn't help the squad, so he eliminated all positions. The team now constantly rotates, and every player plays every position.
"I love it, there is so much variety," senior Marquessa Gilson said. "The best part is that it makes us more diverse and we have sharper skills."
The revolutionary approach Moe implemented didn't produce results immediately, but the plan is starting to take hold.
"I introduced the system to them and gave them the choice," Moe said. "They were excited to use it. The system stresses defense, and it takes a lot of discipline. They still forget a few things sometimes, but they are getting better and better."
Moe's players are getting used to the new scheme, and they are invested in it. Along with the off-the-beaten-path X's and O's, Moe has instituted some novel concepts to help his players off the court.
"He has really preached that we be student-athletes," Gilson said. " 'Student' comes first. He has taught us the lesson that what we do in the classroom is much more important than what we do on the court."
Gilson and the other four seniors on the team have gained physical and mental skills that will aid them in life after volleyball. However, their volleyball careers aren't quite done yet, and they aren't giving up on making a trip to the playoffs.
"I guarantee we will be better from here on out," Gilson said. "We still are dying to make it to state."
Few expected the Kearns volleyball team to rebound after its rough start.
The Cougars lost their first 12 matches, including nine sweeps. But they have gone against the odds by winning two of their last five matches in region play.
Middle blocker Rosetta Kasala has been instrumental in Kearns' shift. Kasala blocked seven Granger spikes in the Cougars' first victory, and she has been one of the team's top blockers this year.
Kearns entered the week in fourth place in Region 2. The Cougars will return to the playoffs for the third straight season if they can hold onto that spot.
Outside hitter Marlee Flint has Stansbury in great shape heading into the tail end of the regular season.
The Stallions won seven of their first eight Region 11 matches after compiling a 3-7 preseason record.
Flint has led the team in kills during region play, and she shows no signs of slowing down.
Stansbury has a stronghold on second place in the region, and it should ride that to a solid seed in the state tournament.