Steve Manning

Waterford Girls Making Their Mark
by Rich Winter, Salt Lake Tribune

The Waterford girls’ volleyball team has always played second fiddle to the school’s high-powered boys’ soccer team. But a talented cast of seniors is trying to bring volleyball to the top of the 2A pyramid and bring home the school’s first state title. Waterford finished fourth at last year’s state tournament, third in 2008, and fifth in 2007, but a senior-laden class with no individual stars has Waterford coaches and players thinking big. With Thursday’s victory over Rockwell, the Ravens improved to 7-0, including big wins over North Summit and South Summit. “North and South Summit have always been good and we rarely win against North Summit, but we clawed our way to victory over both,” said longtime Waterford coach Steve Manning. In both contests, the Ravens were extended to five games but Manning said the girls never panicked. “This group has the ability to steady themselves when times get tough,” said Manning. “More than any other year, these girls have come together and their chemistry is phenomenal.” That chemistry will surely be tested with what Manning calls a very tough region schedule and a brutal road to the elusive state title the Ravens have never won. Waterford senior Laura Lee Judd has been a regular since her freshman year and said this year’s team has something special. “All of us have been best friends since about the sixth grade,” said Judd. “We hang out together off the court and seem to know what the other is thinking on the court.” Waterford boasts no player taller than 5-foot-10 and doesn’t have a player whom Manning would call a star. Without a go-to player, the Ravens have been finding offense from all angles. “Our biggest strength is we can bring strong offense from all over the court,” said Manning. Manning points to outside hitter Judd as the most consistent and punishing hitter but says Carol Chase Peterson and Chandler Rosenberg have been steady, if not spectacular. The Ravens get a lift from first-year setter Sierra Kane, who played middle hitter last season, and from MacKenzie Martin, who switched from middle to outside hitter this season. “MacKenzie didn’t really want to play middle, but I have never seen anyone working so hard to get better,” said Manning. “I think the kids feel obligated to perform well because MacKenzie has been so unselfish.” Libero Emily Jensen serves as the defensive stopper. “We have four seniors and it’s always been a goal of ours to take Regions,” said Judd. “One of our goals this year is to work together to do as well as we can at state.” Manning said a good offseason of playing club volleyball has produced the most talented team in school history. “We’ve never had a team with as good a chance to win a championship but there are a lot of things you can’t control,” said Manning. “They all want to take state but we do things the right way and don’t talk too much about it, don’t look ahead, and take it one game at a time.”

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