Titans finish fifth at state in boys volleyball
Jul 30, 2019 04:19PM
● By Josh McFadden
Olympus overcame an early loss at the region boys volleyball tournament to advance at state and claim fifth place. (Photo courtesy of John Larson)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
The final sports season of the high school year is busy with baseball, softball, boys soccer, track and field, girls golf and boys tennis, with boys and girls lacrosse starting in the spring of 2020. But don’t forget about boys volleyball. This club sport is gaining momentum, and the Olympus Titans have one of the top squads in the state.
Boys volleyball isn’t sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association, meaning participants must fund everything themselves. There are also challenges in finding venues where teams can practice and play. With these obstacles, Olympus continues to compete well, and this past season was no exception.
In fact, there has been so much interest at the school in boys volleyball that Olympus had four teams this past spring. Two of these teams participated in the Silver Division, while two more were in the Gold Division.
Despite some injuries, the Titans’ Gold 1 team still finished fifth at the state tournament. Key players Matthew Larson, Noah Benne and Max Carlton each missed games throughout the season as they dealt with various ailments. Head coach John Larson said this opened up opportunities for less-experienced players to step up and contribute.
The Titans went 18-10 during the regular season and lost in the second round of the region tournament to Herriman in three sets.
Olympus bounced back from the early exit to make a strong showing at state, May 10 and 11.
In the state tournament pool play, Olympus lost in two sets to Bingham but came back to easily defeat Davis and Skyridge to finish second in its pool. The Titans then outpaced rival Skyline in two sets, pitting them against Corner Canyon in the quarterfinals. There, Olympus dropped set No. 1 but prevailed in the second set. Corner Canyon outlasted Olympus in the decisive third set.
This put the Titans in the consolation bracket where they defeated Pleasant Grove in three sets, advancing them to the fifth-place match against Herriman. In a rematch from the region tournament, Olympus got revenge, defeating the Mustangs in three hard-fought sets.
Larson said many players in his team were huge factors in the club’s accomplishments.
“This was a special group of boys who all contributed to the team’s success,” he said.
Larson singled out setter Max Mottonen, who later switched positions due to an injury to Matthew Larson. Drew Wilson, Luke Thompson, Carlton, Ephraim Maxfield and Benne were other leaders and top performers on the court.
“Max Mottonen was the server specialist all season with a wicked jump float that most teams struggled to handle,” John Larson said. “Drew Wilson was our other outside who hit with sheer power, and Noah Benne played opposite and left-handed when he was available due to the injury to his right shoulder. Our other opposite was Luke Thompson, who was another serve specialist, especially at state with he and Mottonen had the highest serve percentage on the team. Our middles, Ephraim Maxfield and Max Calton, made sure to always have a presence and were easily the best middle duo in the state.”
Matthew Larson and Maxfield, a 6-foot-7-inch player who graduated from Cottonwood High School (which doesn’t have a team), were invited to play in the SVA West Coast Classic in Anaheim, California, on an all-star team in early June. The duo, along with Wilson, was also selected to go to nationals with Club GSL 18U Open Division. Benne also competed at the SVA West Coast Classic in the 17U division.
“Hard work and dedication to their sport make these kids stand out and get them invited to be a part of these elite teams,” John Larson said.
Olympus returns plenty of firepower next season. Mottonsen, Wilson and Thompson will return to the team next year for their senior season. Jackson Bennee, another contributor, will be a junior in 2020. Also, look for Ethan Adair, Sam Janzen, Ben Nichols, Naomu Jones, Kyle Bird and Army Peterson to have expanded roles next year.
“Several players from the Silver teams are poised to break through,” John Larson said.