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Holladay Journal

Olympus boys volleyball thrilled for first year of sanctioned play

Apr 09, 2024 11:21AM ● By Josh McFadden

The Olympus boys volleyball team got off to a strong start this season and looks to compete for the Class 5A state title. (Photo courtesy of the Olympus High School yearbook staff)

Across the state, many Utah high schools have had club boys volleyball teams for years. Now, those clubs can form sanctioned teams and play for region and state titles. The Olympus boys volleyball team has begun its inaugural season. 

So far, the team has performed well. 

The Titans won nine of their first 12 matches and prevailed in their opening two Region 6 contests, sweeping both East and West, March 14 and 19, respectively. The Titans also participated in the 5A/6A Challenge March 22 and 23, going 5-1 in six matches. 

Head coach Brett Peterson appreciates the enthusiasm his players are bringing to the court. He has high expectations for this first season for the program. 

 “We had a great group of boys come try out for the team in this first sanctioned year of boys volleyball, and they're excited to be the first group to officially represent the high school on the volleyball court,” Peterson said. “The team is hoping to win the first 5A state title, and I don't see why that isn't a realistic goal for this group of guys. We have four returning players from last year's [club] championship team and a handful of other players that are really stepping up to fill in the gaps. However, I do know that we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do in order to make that goal a reality.”

Though boys volleyball as an official sport is just getting underway, Olympus players are hardly new to the sport. In fact, the Titans have elite-level players on the floor, including senior middle blocker Soren Jepsen, a 6-foot-3-inch talent who recently committed to play for Brigham Young University and its perennial nationally ranked squad. He led the team with 37 kills and 10 blocks in the first four matches. His .550 hitting percentage was leading the state through that span of matches. 

He’s far from the only standout player for the Titans. 

Senior outside hitter Miles Burningham, a captain, scores plenty of points for the team. Senior middle blocker/outside hitter Reef Smylie, who recently helped the Olympus boys basketball team capture a state title, is a key part of the starting lineup. Others to watch include junior outside hitter Yuse Jones and sophomore setter Gabe Lincoln. Lincoln had 118 assists through the first four matches, averaging 8.4 assists per set, good enough for third in the state. 

“All of our guys play unique roles and are critical to the team’s success,” Peterson said. “[Lincoln] has absolutely stepped up as a sophomore setter and leader of our offense and has been making great decisions so far for our team. [Jepsen] has been absolutely dominant to start our season. Despite already committing to play D1 volleyball at BYU, he continues to put in the work. [Burningham], [Smylie] and [Jones] do a great job as our primary passers and also round out a surprisingly balanced offense.”

The Titans are going to be a difficult team to beat this season. 

Peterson said his Olympus team can be physically dominant and imposing. The starting lineup has an average height of 6-feet-3-inches. 

“Through our games so far, we've found that we have an inherent advantage at the net thanks to some impressive vertical leaps to go along with our height, which leads to a lot of scoring opportunities that we try to take advantage of,” Peterson said.

Though talented and experienced, the Titans aren’t going to walk into any gym unchallenged. Peterson and his players know that they’ll get every opponent’s best shot. There is also no substitute for dedication and effort each game and practice. Peterson also said avoiding the injury bug and maintaining good team chemistry will be critical. 

“We have a group of very talented players, but we still have some work to do on figuring out how to play together,” he said. “For us to be holding a trophy at the end of the season, we have stay healthy, continue to learn how to play together as a group and continue to put in the work to help this team maximize their potential.”

And no matter how good a team is, there is always room for improvement. Peterson pointed out some areas where he’d like to see the Titans get better. 

“We've started off a little weaker than I would like to see from the serving line,” he said. “Men’s volleyball very often comes down to which team can serve and pass more effectively, and so far we haven't quite dialed in our serves to the level of accuracy and power that will carry us through a full season. We also need to continue to build up our depth. Often, teams are only as good as the ‘next man up,’ and we've got a lot of work to do to build up our bench strength.”       

Olympus will play each Region 6 foe twice, ending with a May 7 match at home against Skyline. The 5A state tournament will follow. Whether the Titans reach their goal by claiming the state title, Peterson is honored to be at the helm of the program and appreciates the chance to work with his players. 

“This is a fantastic group of boys, and they're an absolute blast to coach,” he said. “They love the game, and they are invested in helping the entire team achieve their potential. One of my favorite aspects of coaching young men is watching them gain confidence and skills and then put those into practice as they lead and coach up the next group of guys.”   λ